A husband and father of two from Brighton who suffered a heart attack while playing football earlier this year has reconnected with the ambulance service colleagues who helped to save his life.

David Payne, now 56 from Brighton, was playing football at his local club on the evening of 24 January 2024 when he started to experience some discomfort and pain. David stepped off the pitch to rest, and his next memory is waking from a coma in the Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton four days later.

Unbeknown to David, he had walked to a nearby neighbourhood road and collapsed in cardiac arrest after experiencing a heart attack. Thankfully, gas engineer Umar Issacs who runs a nearby gym was passing and was the first person to find David laying on the floor. Umar’s mobile had run out of charge and so he flagged down a passing food delivery driver who stopped and let Umar use his mobile to call 999.

As well as this, off-duty Police Community Support Officer (PCSO) Caroline Batchelor, had taken a wrong turn and drove into Wilson Avenue where she saw David lying on the floor with Umar. Caroline sprung into action and started performing CPR on David until ambulance service colleagues arrived on scene minutes later.

David and his wife Ally recently visited South East Coast Ambulance Service’s (SECAmb) Make Ready Centre in Brighton where they were reunited with Critical Care Paramedic, Ben Spashett, Newly Qualified Paramedic, Brody Chapman, Newly Qualified Paramedic, Alex Dellar, Trainee Associate Ambulance Practitioner, Daniel Pannett, and Operational Team Leader Simon Edmonson, who were all on scene with David that night.

Due to being in a coma, David has a five-week period of memory loss pre and post his collapse, and so the crew were able to share some insights with David and Ally as to what happened. They were even able to show them some of the kit that was used on David at the scene, including the defibrillator.

Ben will soon be visiting David’s local football club to teach players how to perform CPR should they wish to. Ben is a huge advocate for sharing this knowledge which ultimately will help to save a life.

David is still on his journey to making a full recovery and has made great strides in the months following on from the incident. It is now his mission to raise awareness around learning basic lifesaving skills such as CPR.

Ally said, “The crew have really changed the course of our lives. We have two teenagers at home and we ourselves have been together since we were teenagers, so if things had been different that night it would have absolutely devastated our family.”

Ben Spashett said, “In my 16 years of being a paramedic, this is the first time I’ve met a survivor and it’s extremely rewarding. In David’s case, hand to chest time was key to saving his life and David was very lucky to have the off duty PCSO nearby and our crews there within a matter of minutes. It’s fantastic to see that David has recovered so well, and I’m looking forward to working with him and his football club to educate them on CPR.”

David added: “Following the amazing work that the crew did that evening, I am now a huge advocate for ensuring as many people know how to perform CPR as possible. I am very lucky to be here and that’s down to everyone who helped me that evening.”