NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — In the United States, there are about 100 to 150 sudden cardiac deaths during competitive sports each year, according to the American College of Cardiology.
During Monday night’s Buffalo Bills game against the Cincinnati Bengals, Bills safety Damar Hamlin was taken off the field in an ambulance following a hit on Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins in the first quarter. According to a statement from the NFL, Hamlin, 24, is in critical condition at a local hospital and went into cardiac arrest during the game.
Athletics-related cardiac arrest isn’t limited to football. In Middle Tennessee, Vanderbilt Basketball Player Davis Nwankwo suffered cardiac arrest during a 2006 practice session. He was revived by athletic trainer Mike Meyer who administered one shock from an AED and two rescue breaths.
Following Hamlin’s terrifying hit, the American Heart Association is sharing the importance of learning bystander CPR, saying, “bystander CPR saves lives.”
“If you look back at the footage from last night, you see a team of people swooping in. They knew exactly what to do – they put their emergency plan in place,” said Annie Thornhill, executive director of the Middle TN American Heart Association. “How can we be those people who are ready and know what to do for our loved ones, knowing that the numbers tell us that what’s most likely to happen is it’s going to be somebody we know and love, and it’s probably going to be at home or maybe at work.”
Dr. Katherine Y. Brown, founder of Learn CPR America, said every 90 seconds in the United States, someone will experience cardiac arrest; however, only about 46% of bystanders will perform CPR in an emergency situation.
“About 90% of people who suffer out-of-hospital cardiac arrest die because people don’t know what to do,” said Dr. Brown. “CPR, especially if performed immediately, can double or triple a cardiac arrest victim’s chance of survival.”
Dr. Brown said CPR can be broken down into two steps: dial 9-1-1 and push hard and quickly in the center of the chest.
“The more we simplify the message, the more likely people are to actually respond,” said Dr. Brown. “Your actions can only help. The power is in your hands to help save a life.”