EAST SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV)– The American Heart Association is stressing the importance of CPR training after Buffalo Bills defensive player Damar Hamlin went into cardiac arrest Monday night during the Bills game against the Cincinnati Bengals. 

While trained medical professionals on the football field were able to administer life-saving measures to Hamlin immediately, the American Heart Association says that roughly 70% of cardiac arrests that do not happen in the hospital occur in a home or private residence. That means a family member or close friend is likely the person who will need to take action during an emergency. 

“When we’re performing CPR we’re actually performing the heart’s function of pushing blood out to all the vital organs,”

Amy Grover, American Heart Association Board Member and Athletic Trainer

The American Heart Association teaches hands-only CPR which doesn’t require a certification and is only two steps. First, call 911 and then push hard and fast in the center of the chest for 100-120 beats per minute until emergency services arrive. Songs such as ‘Staying Alive’ by the Bee Gees or ‘Hips Don’t Lie’ by Shakira are helpful in keeping with the rhythm. 

Suppose an automated external defibrillator (AED) is available to use. In that case, Grover says to turn it on immediately and follow the instructions to place the pads on the person’s body and administer a shock if needed.

“It literally restarts the heart so the heart is typically in arrhythmia when that’s needed and the thing with AEDs is that it’s going to detect the abnormal rhythm and then advise a shock so we’re always telling people that if you don’t understand what’s happening you put the pads on they tell you where to go and just apply them. The AED is not going to advise a shock if it’s not needed so don’t be scared to hurt somebody,”

Amy Grover, American Heart Association Board Member and Athletic Trainer

Grover said while it can be very scary to administer chest compressions or use an AED it’s important to not let fear get in the way of saving a life. According to the AHA, the rate of bystander CPR in North America is estimated at only 39-44% meaning only about 1 in 10 people survive out-of-hospital cardiac arrest. Performing CPR immediately can double or triple a cardiac arrest victim’s chance of survival so they’re hoping more people learn these simple steps and put them into action if the time comes. 

If you’re interested in signing up for a CPR or First Aid course near you, the American Heart Association has a locator tool on its website