Medical professionals are urging more people to learn cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) after Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin collapsed during Monday night's game against the Cincinnati Bengals and was treated on the field.
Hamlin was hit while trying to tackle Tee Higgins in the middle of the field during the first quarter of the game. The 24-year-old stood up after the hit and appeared to adjust his face mask, but fell to the ground seconds later.
The Bills confirmed that CPR was administered on the field, a process that restored his heartbeat before he was taken to a nearby hospital in critical condition. Both the NFL and the NFL Players Association agreed to postpone the game following the incident.
The emotional moment has prompted medical experts, including the American Heart Association, to remind others of the importance of learning cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR.)
Bystander CPR saves lives.— American Heart Association (@American_Heart) January 3, 2023
In the event of a cardiac emergency, Dial 9-1-1 and administer hands-only CPR along with an AED, if available. https://t.co/EECGGxm9fG
How to become CPR, AED Certified
Explaining cardiac arrest and when to administer CPR
According to the CDC, during cardiac arrest, a person's heart stops beating and they cannot pump blood to the rest of their body— including the brain and lungs. Death can occur within minutes if treatment administered.
The CDC notes that cardiac arrest is not the same as a heart attack. A heart attack happens when blood flow to the heart is blocked. A person having a heart attack is still talking and breathing. This person does not need CPR—but, they do need emergency medical attention as soon as possible. A heart attack increases the risk for going into cardiac arrest.
Currently, about 9 in 10 people who suffer from cardiac arrest outside the hospital die, but CPR can help improve those odds. The CDC says if it is performed in the first few minutes of cardiac arrest, CPR can double or triple a person's chance of survival.
According to the CDC, about 350,000 cardiac arrests happen outside of hospitals each year—and about 7 in 10 of those happen at home. Unfortunately, about half of the people who experience cardiac arrests at home don't get the help they need from bystanders before an ambulance arrives.
If you see cardiac arrest happen, call 911 right away and then do CPR until medical professionals arrive.
How to administer CPR
The American Red Cross suggests the following 7-step process to successfully administer CPR to someone in need:
- Check the scene for safety, form an initial impression and use personal protective equipment (PPE)
- If the person appears unresponsive, CHECK for responsiveness, breathing, life-threatening bleeding or other life-threatening conditions using shout-tap-shout
- If the person does not respond and is not breathing or only gasping, CALL 9-1-1 and get equipment, or tell someone to do so
- Place the person on their back on a firm, flat surface
- Give 30 chest compressions
- Hand position: Two hands centered on the chest
- Body position: Shoulders directly over hands; elbows locked
- Depth: At least 2 inches
- Rate: 100 to 120 per minute
- Allow chest to return to normal position after each compression
- Give 2 breaths
- Open the airway to a past-neutral position using the head-tilt/chin-lift technique
- Ensure each breath lasts about 1 second and makes the chest rise; allow air to exit before giving the next breath
Note: If the 1st breath does not cause the chest to rise, retilt the head and ensure a proper seal before giving the 2nd breath If the 2nd breath does not make the chest rise, an object may be blocking the airway
- Continue giving sets of 30 chest compressions and 2 breaths. Use an AED as soon as one is available!
How to use an AED
According to the American Heart Association, it is important to act fast if you see someone suddenly collapse. They offer the following instructions when using an AED:
- Have the victim face up on a firm, flat surface and are ready to continue Hands-Only CPR with an AED. You must remove all clothes that cover the chest as AED pads must not be placed over any clothing or jewelry.
- Turn the AED on and follow the prompts which will tell you everything you need to do.
- Peel away the backing from the pads. Ensure there is nothing between the pad and the person's bare skin. Plug the pads connector into the AED if necessary.
- Follow the prompts and let the AED analyze and make sure that no one is touching the person. The AED will analyze the heart rhythm. If the AED tells you that a shock is not needed resume Hands-Only CPR.
- If the AED advises a shock, deliver a shock. Loudly state "CLEAR" and make sure that no one is touching the person. Push the shock button.
- Immediately resume Hands-Only CPR until help arrives or the AED prompts you to pause. You will likely need to repeat several cycles of compressions and shocks.
- Follow the prompts from your AED until help arrives. Again, if you see a teen or adult suddenly collapse don't be afraid to start Hands-Only CPR. Remember, call 911 and ask someone to get an AED then push hard and fast in the center of the chest until the AED and help arrives. Your actions can help save a life.
This story was originally published by WLEX in Lexington, Kentucky with additions from Scripps News.