Hero Irishman saves brother’s life after heart attack in football grounds car park on match day

Hero Irishman saves brother’s life after heart attack in football grounds car park on match day

A QUICK-THINKING Irishman managed to save his brother’s life when his heart stopped on their way to a football match.

Paul Hobbs was driving himself and older brother Willie to watch Luton Town FC in action when Willie went into cardiac arrest.

Despite having no formal training, the CPR that Paul, a father-of-three, performed on his brother saw him bring him back to life twice.

“Willie and I are like best mates,” Paul told The Irish Post.

“We go to the football together all the time as we both live in Luton and are Luton Town fans - Willie drives to my house, then I drive us halfway to the stadium and we walk the rest of the way.”

But when they made that trip on January 28, to watch Luton Town play Cambridge United, they had no idea that they would never get to see the match.

“We had just arrived and were parking,” Paul, 53, explains.

“One minute Willie was telling me I was a great man for parking in a tight space and about 20 seconds later I turned and his head was back against the seat, his eyes were rolling and his tongue was hanging out of his mouth.”

Willie, Paul and son Seán Hobbs (10) at a previous Luton Town match

Paul immediately called for an ambulance, before getting out of the car and going to his brother’s side to pull him out.

But he had to rely on the help of his 10-year-old son Seán, who was also in the car, to free Willie’s leg, which had got caught on the seat.

When they got 58-year-old Willie, who is also a father-of-three, to the pavement, Paul began his attempt to bring him back to life.

“I put my mobile phone to Willie’s face and could see no breath so I knew he had gone,” he says.

“So I started CPR, and to my complete surprise after about 30 seconds his heart kicked back into life and I just kept on going until the paramedics arrived.”

Although an ambulance came within eight minutes of Paul’s 999 call, he lost his brother once more during that time.

Remarkably he brought him back to life for a second time with his continued CPR.

The paramedics then worked on Willie for a further 80 minutes before he was stable enough to be moved to nearby Stockwood Park, where an air ambulance took him to Harefield Hospital.

There Paul and Willie’s family faced an agonising wait to find out if he had sustained any brain damage from the events of that afternoon.

But Willie, who was placed into an induced coma, emerged two days later with no injuries to his brain.

“We were very lucky,” Paul admits.

“It's difficult to get your head around it if I'm honest,” he adds, “When I saw him on the Saturday his life was in my hands, then on the Tuesday he was sitting up in the chair, back to his normal self.”

Paul now hopes speaking about their traumatic ordeal may help others.

“I had never done or been trained to do CPR. I just saw it on television and was lucky I guess to have managed to keep my brother alive until the trained medics arrived,” he says.

Willie, Paul and son Seán Hobbs at a Luton Town FC match

“But to me now I feel it is a necessity that everyone knows the importance of CPR, and most importantly the need to remain as calm as possible and to react immediately in these situations.”

After spending 13 days in hospital, Willie returned home on February 10, with an Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator (ICD) implanted in his chest.

“Thankfully Willie survived this,” Paul adds, “and he has now been fitted with an ICD which will kick start the heart if anything like this happens again.”

And the brothers, who hail from Gorey in Co. Wexford, but moved to Luton in the 1980s, have already been back to Luton Town’s Kenilworth Road grounds.

On Saturday, February 25 the pair - who have three other brothers and a sister back in Ireland - attended their first match together since their ordeal.

They watched Luton Town draw 1-1 with Plymouth.

“It was an exciting day, and Willie was so happy,” says Paul.

“We had to do it, it was a month from the day that everything happened and I just needed to drive there, to park in the same place and to get to this match – I needed to do that as much for me as I did for Willie.”

Information about CPR and training is available on the British Heart Foundation website, here.