Buffalo Bills player Damar Hamlin is using his scary life experience on the field to help make a change for children nationwide.
Blavity covered the NFL safety’s collapse on the field during a Monday Night Football game due to cardiac arrest in January. Fans at the game and those tuning in watched anxiously, hoping he’d be fine. Due to Denny Kellington, an assistant athletic trainer for the Bills, doing CPR and an automated external defibrillator, the 24-year-old could make it to a nearby hospital for medical care and recovery.
On Wednesday, Hamlin went to Washington, D.C., to share his perspective with lawmakers in order to help millions of citizens in case a cardiac emergency happens, following the introduction of the Access to AEDs Act by Reps. Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick, D-Fla., and Bill Posey, R-Fla., that would “authorize a grant program to purchase AEDs, fund cardiopulmonary resuscitation and AED training programs in elementary and secondary schools for students, staff and volunteers, and promote the importance of defibrillation in schools.”
HuffPost reported Cherfilus-McCormick said, “We see so many students who have cardiac arrests on the field, and the first instinct for everyone is panic.” But, she added, “The truth of the matter is we’re not having annual trainings, we’re not having enough AED machines at schools. Our goal today is to make sure we’re normalizing heart health and life-saving access to AEDs.”
Hamlin is passionate about this bill because there are many scenarios in which student-athletes can experience a cardiac arrest and risk not being saved, such as an AED not being present on location or there being a lack of people knowing CPR techniques.
“Sudden cardiac arrest happens to more than 7,000 kids under the age of 18 every year in our country,” Hamlin told lawmakers. “The majority of the kids impacted are student athletes. Research shows that 1 in every 300 youth has an undetected heart condition that puts them at risk.”
“For schools that have AEDs, the survival rate for the children from sudden cardiac arrest is seven times higher,” he added. “The Access to AEDs Act will help ensure that schools are just as prepared and trained to respond in a time of crisis as those on the sideline of an NFL game.”
Although the athlete has recovered more quickly than expected, he is taking his time to return to the field.
In a February sit-down with Good Morning America‘s Michael Strahan, he mentioned his desire to play professional football again, saying, “Eventually, that’s always the goal, but I’m allowing that to be in God’s hands. It’s a tough situation. They can’t really tell because it’s an up to me thing I guess … it’s a long road,” Hamlin said.