Damar Hamlin’s medical emergency reminding KY coach of the importance of CPR training

Damar Hamlin’s medical emergency reminding KY coach of the importance of CPR training
Published: Jan. 3, 2023 at 11:26 PM EST
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Damar Hamlin’s collapse and subsequent cardiac arrest on the field of Paycor Stadium Monday night has still been on the minds of millions of Americans 24 hours later.

Chris Ryan, the head baseball coach at Bullitt Central High School, watched the Monday Night Football game with his daughter and saw Hamlin collapse live on TV.

He said the situation was nerve-wracking and made him reflect on what would happen if one of his players were injured.

“You don’t really think you’re going to be in that position,” Ryan said. “And to see the protocols and things that we talk about all the time, but never really have to get involved in or practice come into play, it was tough to see.”

Hamlin is believed to have suffered from commotio cordis, a rare medical condition that occurs when an athlete is hit in the chest by a high-velocity object.

If it strikes in a specific 15-to-30-millisecond window during a heartbeat, it can cause an arrythmia and cardiac arrest.

“And when that happens, you basically have to start cardiopulmonary resuscitation or CPR really immediately,” UofL Cardiologist Dr. Kim Williams said. “If you don’t, you don’t get blood flow to the brain.”

Fewer than 30 cases are recorded every year, but experts suspect that more cases go misdiagnosed.

Organized sports at all age levels are making sure they have defibrillators and people trained in CPR on the sidelines, just for this reason.

Ryan said coaches across Kentucky are required to complete CPR training every two years, and Hamlin’s incident should influence coaches and administrators to assess safety and emergency protocols.

“I think it made it more real for me as a coach,” Ryan said. “Just knowing that I could be thrust into that type of role if a trainer can’t get there fast enough, and that CPR was quite possibly the thing that saved him. It’s definitely a time for all coaches to reflect on our training and how serious we take it.”

According to the American Heart Association, commotio cordis is most commonly found among teenage athletes. The mean age is 15.

Baseball is the most common sport in which commotio cordis occurs.

“This is a call for everyone to understand that chest contact can be dangerous, number one,” Williams said. “And number two, we all need to know CPR. We all need to have CPR in our communities and know where are our AEDs are to shock people, but at least doing the CPR.”

The Kentucky High School Baseball Coaches Association has its convention on January 13 and 14 in Louisville.

Ryan said he would not be shocked if coaches address the Hamlin incident as a way to review the current safety protocols statewide and make high school baseball in Kentucky safer.