Hamlin’s cardiac arrest calls to mind importance of medical staff training



Buffalo Bills’ Safety Damar Hamlin suffered a cardiac arrest on the field last month.

Zion Wells '23, Staff Reporter

Damar Hamlin’s injury that took place on Jan. 2 against the  Bengals is every coach’s, sports fan, and medical staff’s worst nightmare: an on field cardiac arrest. 

While cardiac arrest during games is extremely unlikely, especially at the professional level, it is definitely a scary occurrence for everyone involved. The medical staff of the Buffalo Bills did an amazing job at recognizing the seriousness of the situation and immediately took action to provide medical care for Hamlin. If the Bills medical staff didn’t react as quickly as they did, Hamlin probably would have died on the football field with millions of people watching.

Trainer Anthony Rissotto ’17 stated, “At Riordan, training and preparation is key, Erin (Stovall, Head Athletic Trainer) and I are constantly updating our Emergency Action plan to ensure if an emergency does occur we are prepared to the best possible abilities.”

He continued, “Erin and I also constantly train for a variety of different emergency situations and work closely with other first responders including SFFD and other Athletic Trainers in the WCAL. Furthermore, an AED (Automatic External Defibrillator) is present at every game  and travels with the Athletic Trainer to away games.”

A cardiac arrest is a serious medical emergency that occurs when the heart suddenly stops beating, which can result in death if not treated immediately. In Hamlin’s case, prompt action was taken to revive him and transport him to the hospital, where he received lifesaving treatment.

Risotto added, “Our locker room is also equipped with an AED which is conveniently located between the weight room and basketball gym, just outside the athletic director’s office. Lastly, training our coaches go through emergency cardiac training such as obtaining a CPR and first aid certification prior to the start of their athletic season.”

In February of 2015 Stovall, a parent, and Riordan student Jordan Fox ’18 saved the life of the baseball coach who had a heart attack during baseball practice. Their quick actions and the availability of an AED made all the difference. 

Hamlin has since made a full recovery and is expected to make a full comeback. His doctors have confirmed that he was diagnosed with a heart condition, which is a common cause of cardiac arrests in young athletes.

The news of Hamlin’s cardiac arrest shed light on the importance of heart health in athletes and the need for routine medical check-ups to detect and prevent any underlying heart conditions. Many athletes, especially football players, may not be aware of their heart health, as they may only focus on their physical fitness and performance. 

Riordan football player Donovan McClain ’23  said, “I feel that it was a football play and nobody was at fault in the situation as he made a regular form tackle.” 

McClain added, “I am glad that has recovered from his injury and he will be returning next year.”

Mahkai Hunt ’23 said, “Damar is a strong individual mentally because it’s probably hard to come back to football after a serious injury like that.”

Playing football at the professional level comes with many injuries, however Damar Hamlin’s injury was rare to happen and to return from.