ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – As football fans across the country continue their outpouring of support for Bills safety Damar Hamlin, medical experts are also praising the work of first responders who acted quickly after the 24-year-old collapsed on the field Monday night.
It was a scary scene in Cincinnati during the Bills matchup against the Bengals. Moments after a making a hit to an opposing wide receiver, Hamlin collapsed. The Bills confirmed after the game was suspended that the 24-year-old suffered a cardiac arrest.
“Yesterday was a terrifying scene for all of us who watch football. Watching a young man drop like that was horrible,” said Dr. Michael Dailey, Chief of the Division of EMS at Albany Medical Center.
Within moments, medical personnel were on the field administering CPR. Dailey says their quick recognition of the situation was vital.
“Watching the acuity of the situation be recognized incredibly quickly by the people on the sidelines, really contributed a lot to hopefully his outcome,” he explained.
After several minutes of CPR, Hamlin was taken away by ambulance to a Cincinnati hospital, where at the time of writing, he remains in critical condition.
Health experts say incidents like these show how important it can be for everyone to learn CPR, “The take home message here is that, out of hospital, bystander CPR can save lives. That’s for all comers. The chance of surviving out of hospital cardiac arrest go up dramatically the sooner CPR is initiated,” ABC News Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Jennifer Ashton told NEWS10 ABC.
Ashton says out of hospital CPR now no longer requires mouth-to-mouth, something Dailey also reiterated.
There are also additional tools available to help patients in cardiac arrests. AED’s, which by law are readily available in most public settings, deliver a shock to the heart in an effort to restore a normal heartbeat.
“Defibrillators are a true game changer. But what’s even more important than defibrillation is that recognition and starting CPR right away,” Dailey said.
New York State has a number of laws mandating access to defibrillators in several different public settings. The American Heart Association says these require AED’s in schools, gyms and other public settings, with training requirements to ensure someone knows how to properly use the devices.
Dailey says if you find yourself having to use a defibrillator, the machine and 9-1-1 operator will be able to guide you through the process.
It’s still unclear at this point what caused Hamlin’s cardiac arrest.