What We Can Learn from Damar Hamlin’s Cardiac Arrest

by | Jan 5, 2023

In a recent NFL Monday Night football game between the Bills and Bengals, an unfortunate incident happened where Damar Hamlin, a defensive back for the Bills, went into cardiac arrest after making a tackle. The trainers went into action quickly with prompt CPR and use of the AED. The high quality CPR and early defibrillation undoubtedly saved his life. His condition is still considered critical, but his heartbeat was restored on the field with the AED. He is currently reported to have regular breathing and likely to return to a stable state.

Damar Hamlin’s cardiac arrest happened on center stage and was one the over 350,000 cardiac arrests that happen outside of a hospital in the US every year. Thankfully, he went into cardiac arrest in one of the best places possible other than a hospital. The NFL understands the importance of having AEDs and knowing CPR. Each team is required to have at least one AED everywhere they go, so there was one on each sideline during the game. This preparedness provided the opportunity for the first shock to be delivered within the first few minutes of Damar Hamlin’s cardiac arrest. Due to the prompt CPR along with the early shock, it looks like Damar Hamlin will be in the lucky 10% of that 350,000 people who survive cardiac arrest. Unfortunately, 90% of those 350,000 do not survive because bystanders hesitate to preform prompt CPR and fail to use the AED.

It Doesn’t Have to Be this Way

In cases of cardiac arrest, if CPR is preformed and the AED is used, fatalities would go down drastically. Even if an AED is not available, doing effective CPR until the EMTs arrive can still provide a good chance of resuscitation. Unfortunately, many people don’t know CPR or at least don’t feel confident doing it. If you want to learn, check out this video or sign up for a class today.

Effectiveness of AED over time

Over the last few years, AEDs have started to grow in popularity across schools, churches, and facilities- including senior living and sporting facilities. However, there are still many areas that don’t have AEDs, and most places that should have them are not required to have them. This can be changed by increased awareness of the AED’s importance. Also, an increase in legislation that requires AEDs to be present in facilities and the funds it takes to provide those AEDs will increase their popularity. One thing we can learn from Damar Hamlin’s unfortunate accident is the importance of having AEDs onsite especially around sporting events. The unfortunate truth is that AEDs aren’t always available at less major sporting events due to lack of budget or awareness. 

While having an AED is the first step, knowing how to use it and where it is located is also imperative. Every minute after the heart stops until the first shock is delivered, results in a 7-10% decreased recovery rate. Every second counts. If you have to search the halls for an AED or fumble with the machine once you get it, you are losing vital time. This can mean the difference in life and death. To be ready, you should start to take note of where AEDs are located when you are out and about. Obtaining regular AED training or watching this demonstration video will help you feel confident in helping someone in cardiac arrest.

While it appears that Damar Hamlin will recover from this incident (and we pray he does), we also hope this prompts people to see the importance of having AEDs and knowing how to use them. Please comment or contact us if you have any questions about CPR or AEDs. 

About First Response

First Response provides CPR, First Aid, and Fire Safety training to clients across Georgia and South Carolina for over 23 years. We believe training should be relevant, informative, and fun! Feedback from our clients consistently shows that they not only enjoy our classes, they learn something new–even for folks that have taken the class many times before.

Contact us to book a class for your facility, or sign up for a class here.

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