Tuesday 27 February 2024: A Chelsea football fan and the St John youth volunteer who saved his life with CPR during a Chelsea v Manchester City match, were both reunited after being invited as VIP guests to the Chelsea training ground.

Life-long Chelsea fan Paul Archer, 66, collapsed from a cardiac arrest at Stamford Bridge back in November, and it was volunteer first aider, Prince Tandukar, then 21, who was first on the scene. Doctors have said it was ‘a miracle’ Mr Archer survived as he was clinically dead for 20 minutes.

Paul Archer and St John volunteer Prince Tandukar

Hugging and smiling each other at Chelsea’s training ground in Cobham, Surrey, Mr Archer said, “Prince – what an apt name. I am so grateful to be able to thank this impressive and humble individual. You may have broken all my ribs – but I love you for it.”

Recalling the incident, back on 12 November, Prince, 22, a third-year medical student at the University of Buckingham, said, “It was a very eventful game with Chelsea neck and neck at half time with a 3-3 score. I was pitch side by the barrier near the press pen when I heard panicked shouting and screaming. It was a mix of fans and security guards shouting for a medic and I realised someone needed urgent help so I ran up around 15 or so rows to where I could see a security guard waving.”

There Prince found Mr Archer slumped in his chair making short, sharp breaths.

He said, “Mr Archer didn’t look well, and was very red. I took his pulse and tried to stay calm, but it was very chaotic around me. I couldn’t find a pulse, so I tried for a pulse in his neck which is usually stronger, but nothing. Then the gasps stopped altogether, and he slumped forward.”

Prince made the call to get Mr Archer to a nearby first aid room where he could begin CPR. Remembering a stretcher on the back of a door in a small first aid room nearby, Prince told his St John volunteer colleague to radio to the control room for help while he ran to retrieve the stretcher.

“It was a high stress situation with a lot of fans shouting while trying to assess the situation. I think they wanted to see some Greys Anatomy drama or scenes from a movie, but I tried to stay calm and assess the situation. I remembered my St John training which is important especially in a high stress situation. In a moment of crisis, you don’t try to be a hero and just remember what they told you in training and calmly assess the situation and fall back on your training. St John really do good training.”

Paul Archer with the medical team who saved his life

The medical student, who hopes to be an orthopaedic surgeon said, “I had never done CPR for real, I was just a 21 year-old medical student, usually with seniors around me and suddenly it was just me and Mr Archer in the medical room. I was full of adrenalin and on my first compression I heard a pop and knew I had cracked Mr Archer’s ribs. This didn’t deter me as I knew this could happen and for CPR to work, it needs to be forceful. It was a sign I was doing it correctly. I was doing CPR solidly for around eight minutes or so I think. I just went into the zone. There is so much tissue and muscle you lose some of the force when doing CPR, so it needs to be firm.”

Prince and a medical team including paramedic Billy Britton from London Ambulance Service, Stadium Paramedic, Charlotte Faulkner and Stadium Doctor, Will Glazebrook, all played a role in saving Mr Archer’s life.

“When I heard Mr Archer was stable enough to be transported to hospital, I was so pleased” explained Prince. “It was less than two weeks previously that my grandfather had died from a heart attack – if someone in Nepal knew how to do CPR on him he could have survived. I was thinking of my Grandad Mr Asta Lal Tandukar, when helping Mr Archer who was a similar age and build to my grandad, so I put in the same level of effort like I was trying to save my grandad.”

Chelsea Foundation invited Prince, Mr Archer and his sons Nick, 41, and Ben, 34, plus fellow Chelsea FC supporters Bernie DaSouza and Gary Dunsmore to a community day at Cobham training ground to watch training and meet the players.

Paul Archer and Chelsea FC players

Mr Archer, a retired businessman, said, “The biggest thing for me was to say thank you. I love Chelsea and it was the icing on the cake to say thank you to the individuals who saved my life at the training ground. For Prince to reflect on his grandad while saving me, while he brought be back – just wow. It must’ve been scary and daunting, but he kept his cool. If we had 10,000 more Prince’s in our healthcare what a difference it would make.”

Son Nick, a restauranteur, said the incident has prompted him to refresh all his staff’s first aid training, saying it had brought home the importance of first aid skills.

Paul Archer with friends and family

Sally Mills, of Chelsea Foundation, said: “It was fantastic to welcome Paul and everyone involved to the training ground as part of our community day. To see the smile on their faces when reuniting was something very special. Providing unforgettable memories for our community is a crucial part of our work and we were delighted to be able to put this memorable occasion together for Paul and those who helped save his life.”

St John Ambulance Chief Commissioner Ann Cable said, "St John is enormously proud of Prince for his fast response and putting into practice his first aid skills to save Mr Archer's life.  

“Our amazing volunteers work hard to keep football fans up and down the country safe but we would like more fans to take the time to learn CPR  - a simple skill - that really does save lives. You never know when you will need to use it.

For more information abore about St John Ambulance’s lifesaving work, how to donate or get involved, visit: sja.org.uk