Damar Hamlin injury highlights importance of AEDs, knowing how to perform CPR

Following the on-field cardiac arrest of Bills football player Damar Hamlin, local sports medicine specialist say knowing CPR and how to use an AED are critical
Published: Jan. 3, 2023 at 6:09 PM CST
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - A frightening situation in Cincinnati Monday night shined the spotlight on emergency response to traumatic injuries and how every second counts when it comes to life-saving efforts. After 24-year-old Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin collapsed on the field following a violent collision, many speculated what was happening as trainers and other medical professionals spent several minutes administering CPR, trying to stabilize him. The fight to regain a pulse included the use of an AED, or automated external defibrillator. As of Tuesday evening, Hamlin remained in critical condition at a Cincinnati hospital after suffering cardiac arrest.

The situation showed the importance of having potentially life-saving equipment readily available at every level. Tuesday night, 12 News spoke with the Wichita school district and youth sports organizations about AEDs and the protocols behind them, as well as the importance of learning CPR.

Wichita Public Schools Lead Athletic Trainer Jennifer Hudson said she and all athletic trainers across Kansas have to maintain their emergency and cardiac care training. This includes An AED which helps to reestablish the heart’s rhythm.

“We also train all of the coaches. That’s KSHSAA policy, and we train all of our coaches in CPR and AED use,” Hudson said. “We have several AEDs in all of the buildings. In fact, I have one that I take with me to every game I cover. I always have an AED with me.”

In her 24 years at Wichita East High School, Hudson said she’s only needed to use an AED once. It was on a fan in the stands.

“It is rare, but in case of emergency, having that makes such a big difference and it really does save lives,” Hudson said.

At the Westurban baseball facility in west Wichita, the facility doesn’t have access to an AED.

“Our primary safety is, call 911. We are about two minutes from a hospital emergency room and maybe three minutes from the fire station, so we encourage people to call 911,” Westurban Baseball Executive Director Eric Blasdel explained.

Basel said having an AED on site has been discussed, but moving forward, having proper CPR care is a talking point for Westurban and its players and personnel.

“We will reiterate to people that you need to have trained CPR people, which the Red Cross provides CRP training to everybody,” he said.