'Chain of survival': NFL life-threatening emergency shines light on importance of CPR, AEDs in all sports settings

’Chain of survival’: NFL life-threatening emergency shines light on importance of CPR, AEDs in all sports settings


NEW BERLIN, Wis. (CBS 58) -- The quick actions to resuscitate NFL Buffalo Bills player Damar Hamlin after he went into cardiac arrest during a Monday Night Football game is shining a light on the importance of knowing how to perform lifesaving measures in all sports settings. 

Milwaukee County Chief Health Policy Advisor Dr. Ben Weston said quick, high-quality cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and early defibrillation can mean the difference between life and death for someone in cardiac arrest. 

"We call it the chain of survival. Every link to that chain is critical," Weston said.

Weston said when someone is in cardiac arrest, the heart is not pumping blood throughout the body, causing them to pass out.

He told CBS 58 the first critical step is for a bystander to begin CPR. 

"Unresponsive plus not breathing or not breathing well means doing CPR and if doing CPR, you sure want to find an AED and put it on," Weston said.

A person can be trained to use an AED, but it is not necessary. The machine will typically provide spoken instructions.

"It may tell you not to shock, not every cardiac arrest needs to be shocked. It will analyze and tell you that. But having it there, especially for someone who needs a shock, is critically important," Weston said. 

OAW Indoor Sports Complex Co-Owner Aaron Kahle told CBS 58 it's not a requirement for his facility to have AEDs, but they decided to buy two of them. They're kept in a central location for quick access in case of an emergency.

"It can happen everywhere," Kahle said.

Kahle said all full-time staff and some part-time staff are also trained in CPR. 

"We thought it would be very important in regard to a lot of older people that train here during the day and then also the youth sports," Kahle said.

The Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association (WIAA) requires all paid high school coaches to be certified in first aid, CPR and AED operation.

WIAA Communications Director Todd Clark said AEDs are typically readily available in school gyms or near fields.

"There have been a number of instances where the AEDs and the actions of emergency services, as well as some of our school people with AEDs, have saved the lives of officials and student athletes," Clark said.

The Red Cross offers CPR and AED certification. 

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