CINCINNATI, OHIO (WSAV) — When injuries happen on the football field seconds can make a difference between a few missed games and a potentially major injury or even a tragedy.
More than 350,000 people suffer out-of-hospital cardiac arrests, just like Damar Hamlin Monday night and 90% of those people die.
Immediate CPR and medical attention can triple the chances of survival.
“‘Time is tissue’ is a saying we use in fire and EMS,” said Burton Fire District Cpt. Daniel Byrne. “Within four to six minutes without profusion to the brain, the brain will suffer irreparable brain damage. Most people in EMS will tell you, we will get the heart beating again we will get the blood pressure but we can’t overcome the injury to the brain and injury to the head and that all comes down to timing.”
The emergency medical technicians in Cincinnati worked for close to nine minutes on CPR alone to try and restart his heart and bring Hamlin back to life.
The same type of training and tools are at the ready during every high school football game in Beaufort County.
“CPR is more about the brain than it is the heart,” said Burton Fire CPR Coordinator Lee Levesque. “We use the heart to pump the blood. We can mechanically pump the heart. Unfortunately, we can’t do the same for the brain.”
“It is the compressions on the chest and squeezing the heart if you will. Causing the blood to flow through and we know even when the heart stops, three-fourths of the blood still has oxygen in it. So, it is critical to move what is there to allow us to bring oxygen and all the tools that we have.”
“The majority of the people we see that suffer out of the hospital cardiac arrest do not survive,” Byrne explained. “But the large percentage that does have bystander CPR. So that was crucial during the game he had CPR started right away and medical equipment ready to go.”
But even without that equipment, regular citizens can be the ones to start compressions and offer some help. Help that could just keep someone alive until professionals arrive.
“Hands-only CPR and what we call friends and family is a great program as well just so you know enough to do what you can until we can get there,” said Levesque.
“We have what we call the Immediate Responder Program,” explained Byrne. “Part of that responder is stop the bleed, use of Narcan, fire extinguishers. Just those initial things any bystander can do to start care to put time back on that person’s clock and to possibly save a life.”
“You might be able to bring someone back that is better receptive to CPR, you may not,” says Levesque. “But we know that if you do nothing they stay the way you found them, sadly dead.”
Burton Fire and many other local fire departments offer monthly classes in CPR if you would like to get certified. They will also come to businesses or schools to train larger groups.
While it is not quite as effective, there are also videos on YouTube showing “hands-only CPR” using the song “Stayin Alive” to help you keep the correct beat and potentially save a life if disaster strikes.