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NFL Player's Cardiac Arrest Points up Importance of CPR Training

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Thursday, January 5, 2023   

Lifesaving measures are getting a lot of attention this week after an NFL player went into cardiac arrest during a game, and Indianans are being reminded about the importance of CPR training.

Medical staff applied CPR and a defibrillator shock to Buffalo Bills' player Damar Hamlin after he collapsed on the field in front of a national TV audience Monday night.

Chrissy Meyer, senior regional director of marketing and communications for the American Heart Association, said it is not only trained professionals who can help. She noted medical emergencies often occur at home, and emphasized knowing what to do can potentially save a life.

"CPR, when performed properly, can re-oxygenate the brain," Meyer pointed out. "If you start CPR right away and call 911, you can get that person the help that they need in an immediate time frame."

Meyer noted first responders often have a defibrillator, known as an AED device, with them if the patient needs a shock to put their heart back into rhythm. Each year in the U.S., an estimated 350,000 people experience sudden cardiac arrest outside a hospital setting. On its website, the Heart Association has a search tool to find local CPR training opportunities.

Indiana law mandates high school students and teachers receive CPR and AED training as part of their curriculum. Meyer added the broader public can learn either the "hands-only" technique or get a full certification involving breathing. Either way, she stressed having the tools can be crucial in an emergency, particularly in rural states.

"In rural areas, it sometimes can take a little bit longer for first responders to react," Meyer acknowledged. "That's why we feel it's so important to have trained bystanders, have everyone know CPR."

The Heart Association said the rate of bystander-administered CPR in North America is estimated at only around 40%, and only about one in 10 people survive an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest, so having more bystanders who know CPR can boost survival numbers.


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