Damar Hamlin’s collapse highlights the importance of CPR and AEDs

By Regence
January 05, 2023

The shocking on-field collapse of NFL player Damar Hamlin highlighted the importance of quick action when someone has a cardiac event. The Buffalo Bills safety was treated within moments before being transported to a local hospital. Understanding what you can do – either through CPR or using an AED – is important when quick response is needed.

CPR is an essential first-aid tool

Cardiopulmonary resuscitation, or CPR, is a life-saving technique used when someone's breathing or heartbeat has stopped. Chest compressions allow a small amount of oxygenated blood to flow to the brain and heart, keeping organs alive until emergency services arrive.

CPR saves lives by allowing people to survive long enough to get to a hospital for more extensive care. Often CPR is depicted in movies or on television as chest compressions and breathing into the mouth of the person who needs it. However, that’s no longer the most recommended method. Hands-only CPR is now primarily recommended.

Hands-only CPR is most effective

CPR with hands only has been shown to be more effective than traditional CPR because bystanders feel more confident and comfortable and constant compressions keep blood flowing to vital organs.

Hands-only CPR consists of two basic steps:

  1. Call 911.
  2. Begin compressions by pushing as hard and as quickly as you can in the center of the chest.

It is critical to apply enough force to compress the chest by 1.5 to 2 inches. Rib fractures are common during compressions, but they will heal. The rhythm of the compressions is also important. Compressions should be done at a rate of 100-120 beats per minute. Following the beat of certain popular songs, such as “Stayin' Alive” by The Bee Gees, can help you find the correct speed.

AEDs are another important first-aid tool

When the heart stops beating, an automated external defibrillator (AED) can automatically analyze the heart rhythm of someone experiencing cardiac arrest and, when necessary, deliver an electrical shock to restore the heart’s normal rhythm. AEDs can be found in many public places like offices, schools, shopping malls, grocery stores, and airports. AEDs give users verbal instructions, so no training is required, but being familiar and comfortable with using one is helpful.

You never know when CPR or AEDs will need to be used. It may be needed at home, on vacation, at work or at a sports game, such as when Damar Hamlin needed CPR after an on-field collapse during an NFL game. It could be needed in the event of sudden cardiac arrest, near drowning, drug overdose, suffocation or electrocution. Always remember to call 911 before starting first aid so emergency services can get there in time.

Sometimes a health need is not as urgent and requires a different level of response. In this case, we encourage you to check which level of care is needed. Sometimes it can be hard to know whether you should go to the emergency room or urgent care. Go to regence.com for a guide on how to decide which level of care is best for your situation.