SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — Either live on television or later, most people have seen the video of Buffalo Bills Safety, Damar Hamlin, collapsing during Monday Nights Football game.
But most people can’t relate like Gerry Bram, who was watching live.
It brought back his memories of serving as a referee at the Syracuse-East Carolina game in 2001.
“I was feeling numbness in my arms,” Bram remembered. “I had double vision. It felt like I had indigestion and I’m saying to myself: ‘Let me get through this game and we’ll take care of it.'”
With eight minutes left on the game clock, Bram collapsed on the field.
He shared: “What I did see: The dome of the Carrier Dome and the lights. That’s the last thing I remember.”
Broadcasted on ESPN and with NewsChannel 9’s cameras recording on the sidelines, fans watched as medical providers surrounded Bram laying on the field in his white and black striped uniform.
They quickly realized he was having a cardiac emergency, similar to what first responders found with Damar Hamlin.
“It’s déjà vu,” said Bram in an interview with NewsChannel 9 on Wednesday. “That’s what I felt and am feeling today. That’s why I’m so dedicated to get the word as far as defibrillators, because a defibrillator saved my life.”
Among the first responders was Syracuse University Team Physician Dr. Irving Raphael. He’s retired, but his son is now the orthapedist for the Syracuse Orange Men’s Basketball Team.
Dr. Brad Raphael, a medical student in 2001, and watched his father save Bram’s life on live television using an automated external defibrillator (AED).
Dr. Raphael said, “It was the first time we had that at the Dome, and just recently. It was not a standard. SU was ahead of the norm, fortunately for Gerry.”
Fortunately for others who followed on the field in years to come, including players like Hamlin, who’s only alive because of an AED.
Bram said: “I just get emotional when I talk about it. Because I have tape of it. I watch it. My kids watch it. My grandson watches it. My granddaughter watches it.”
Immediately following his heart attack, Bram joined the board of the Louis T. Savino III Foundation. He’s become an outspoken advocate for getting AEDs into schools and other athletic facilities.
For anyone who’s moved by his story, he asks to consider to donating.