Damar Hamlin and the events that saved his life


Will Nolan, Staff Writer

On January 2nd, the NFL world came to a sudden, screeching halt.  January 2nd will always be remembered for what happened during the meeting between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Buffalo Bills.

During the first quarter of the game, Tee Higgins caught a pass from Joe Burrow and collided with Bills safety Damar Hamlin.  It appeared to be a routine play until it didn’t.  Hamlin stood up took a few steps and instantly collapsed onto the field, this caused both Bengals and Bills players to quickly call for the medical training staff to come onto the field.  This scene showed a range of emotions from both Bengals and Bills players.  Bengals fans were more in a state of shock whereas the Bills players were seen in varying states of shock, sadness, and worry for their teammate, whose condition was unknown at this time.

What happened to Damar Hamlin?  He suffered a heart attack and collapsed on the field.  It is only because of the heroic actions of the Bills’ training staff that Damar Hamlin is alive.  A member of the Bills staff administered CPR to Hamlin to resuscitate him on the field before he was taken off in an ambulance.  He remained in a Cincinnati hospital for roughly a week before he was discharged to a hospital in Buffalo before he was eventually allowed to go home.

I mentioned the heroics of the Buffalo Bills training staff, specifically Denny Kellington, the man that performed CPR on Hamlin after he collapsed on the field.  The training staff is often overlooked in professional, college, and high school sports but the work they do is vital to every organization’s success in the NFL.  I asked Holy Family’s athletic trainer, Ryan Lawhead, about the role of the training staff in the Damar Hamlin incident and he said this:  “In that situation, you are adding a medical professional to deal with a cardiac incident that most people are not prepared for in the moment.  A lot of our training is training that we hope, and may never have to use but it comes into play in those exact situations.  I never expect something of that nature to happen, but I’m prepared.  My exact role is to 1) Help the injured athlete and 2) make sure everyone else, whether it be fans, parents, or teammates, know that the situation is under control.”

Hamlin is now doing better and was at the Bengals/Bills playoff game on Sunday in Buffalo.  He is walking, talking, and communicating.  Three things that appeared uncertain based on the early stages of Damar Hamlin’s condition.  He has been seen inside the Bills team facility, in meetings, and spectating practice.  Whether or not he will be able to play football is still up in the air, but the fact that he is alive is nothing short of a miracle.  Despite the tragedy of what happened, there are some positives to come out of the situation.  Hamlin’s charity, which donates toys to less fortunate children in the Buffalo, NY area, has amassed nearly $8.7 million in donations.