While the sports world was rocked by the shocking scene involving Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin, it has sparked a conversation about emergency response when it comes to amateur athletes and traumatic injuries.
CPR is credited with restarting Hamlin’s heart, even before he made it to a nearby trauma center. The emergency responders at Paycor Stadium in Cincinnati on Monday night showed the importance of having lifesaving equipment and training at your fingertips, at every level of competition.
“The coaching staff, the strength and conditioning staffs, even just basic parents at all different levels, do go through required trainings for certain degrees or advanced life support training or basic life support training,” said Dr. Marie Schaefer, a sports medicine physician at the Cleveland Clinic.
According to the CDC, about 350,000 cardiac arrests happen outside of hospitals each year, with many patients unable to get help from bystanders before an ambulance arrives.
“If you’ve trained on an AED, never be shy to try it, because remember, that person has already collapsed. Their heart has already stopped. Something needs to be done,” Dr. Schaefer said. “I think it’s really important that members of the community really watch out for each other.”
CPR and AED training are just some of the ways local school districts are working to keep athletes safe. Many schools utilize courses to handle sudden cardiac arrests.
“Our coaches are trained every year on CPR and AED. There are about ten certifications you need to be a coach. So, all the coaches are trained,” said St. Ignatius head football coach Ryan Franzinger. “We have a great medical staff that’s at every practice, every game. We have doctors, we have a whole team of doctors. Coaches are certified in those in those areas. We are ready to respond.”
It’s that type of training that was used last January, when local referee and Mentor native Tim Radley suffered a heart attack on the court during a women’s college basketball game between Baldwin Wallace and John Carroll. Fortunately, quick thinking and an AED brought Radley back to life, illustrating just how important the life-saving measures can be.
“I collapsed — Dr. Bree and Michelle, my two angels, were right there,” Radley said. “They’re just wonderful people here, they really are.”
Sports officials are encouraging everyone to brush up on the technique. It’s important to remember to act fast. Without anyone stepping in, brain damage can start to occur within minutes.
“That’s why I think is so vitally important that we keep training our youth, sport coaches and athletes and parents to be able to identify these situations, because no one ever expects it to happen because it’s rare. But it does happen,” said Dr. Schaefer.