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Cleveland cardiologists: CPR and AED saved the life of Damar Hamlin after sudden cardiac arrest in Cincinnati

Damar Hamlin still 'fighting' after sudden cardiac arrest Monday.
Bills Hamlin Football
Posted at 10:39 PM, Jan 03, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-03 23:28:13-05

CLEVELAND — Hundreds came together outside of the University of Cincinnati Medical Center Tuesday to support Damar Hamlin. The 24-year-old Buffalo Bills’ safety is still in critical condition in the hospital after he collapsed during the Monday Night Football game against the Cincinnati Bengals.

Sources report Hamlin is still sedated and on a ventilator, but according to family members he is fighting and the next steps is to get him breathing on his own.

“He’s improving from where he was yesterday, and I know that he is in great hands with the medical team he has here and they’ve been doing a great job just helping with his recovery,” Dorian Glenn, Hamlin’s uncle told ESPN reporters Tuesday evening.

Glenn said he watched Hamlin collapse with the rest of the world, on television. Glenn and other family members, including Hamlin’s 7-year-old brother, watched it in horror.

"The way my nephew, I never heard him scream and cry like that, and when it was 10 minutes gone past and 20 minutes gone past, I knew something was serious. It went from us consoling him to we were consoling each other,” he said.

Dr. Michael Emery is the co-director of Cleveland Clinic’s Sports Cardiology Center. He said sudden cardiac arrest is a scary event for anyone to witness, even medical professionals.

“It can be even more distressing when a young person has it happen to them, who seemingly is in great health. It seems to be a contradiction,” he said.

He said he can’t speculate what caused Hamlin’s cardiac arrest but he knows, for certain, why he is still alive and fighting: CPR and use of an AED.

“They had an emergency action plan in place that they mobilized very rapidly because that is what saves people's lives, not just his, but anyone's lives in these situations,” said Emery. “A cardiac arrest is when the electrical system of the heart becomes chaotic, so much so that the heart can't effectively pump anymore and that is life threatening within minutes if action isn’t taken.”

According to the American Heart Association, less than 8% of people who suffer cardiac arrest outside of a hospital survive and 88% of them occur at home.

“Whether you're an athlete on the field or whether you're a bystander on the street, CPR, 911 and an AED saves lives,” said Emery.

Bystander CPR can double or triple a victim’s chance of survival but only 32% of victims receive CPR from a bystander because 70% of Americans feel helpless to act, according to the AHA.

“It’s you, that bystander, that may have the most impact on someone's life moving forward than anyone else. So getting some degree of familiarity, even even if you don't get formal training, familiarity with hands only CPR and the fact of how straightforward using an AED is for a bystander would go a long way into helping improve outcomes because really time is so crucial,” he said.

It’s important to remember that an AED will walk you through how to work it, and will tell you if the shock needs to occur.

There are many options to take a CPR course like online and in-person. If you’d like to find a class near you, click here.

RELATED: Health officials urge the public to learn CPR, sign up for training

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