Buffalo Bills’ Damar Hamlin’s heart stops midgame


Gianna Grieco

An Automated External Defibrillator rests on the sideline.

Damar Hamlin, a 24-year-old safety for the Buffalo Bills, collapsed on the field during the Bills-Bengals Monday Night Football game on Jan. 2. After tackling Bengals wide receiver, Tee Higgins, Hamlin fell to the ground at 8:55 p.m. going into cardiac arrest. Play was stopped while lifesaving efforts were administered.

According to MAYO Clinic, cardiac arrest is defined as “the abrupt loss of heart function, breathing, and consciousness.” An automated external defibrillator (AED) was a key component in saving Hamlin’s life. 

Medical personnel immediately rushed onto the field before performing CPR on Hamlin for around 10 minutes. He was then transported to the University of Cincinnati Medical Center after his heartbeat was restored. He was sedated, placed in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and it was announced he was in critical condition. 

He began to wake up on Jan. 5 and communicated with his family through writing, as his breathing tube was still in. However, on Friday, Hamlin showed remarkable improvement, enabling the breathing tube to be taken out, and he was able to FaceTime his teammates and coaches. The entire team immediately stood up and clapped for Hamlin once the screen projected the FaceTime. 

After Hamlin woke up, he asked if his team, the Bills, had won the game. The doctors answered with, “You won the game of life.” 

On Jan. 10, Hamlin tweeted, “Not home quite just yet. Still doing & passing a bunch of tests. Special thank-you to Buffalo General it’s been nothing but love since arrival! Keep me in y’all prayers please! #3strong.”

Hamlin has now returned home to Buffalo for the next step of recovery after being released from Buffalo General on Jan.11. 

Jupiter High School’s football coach, Jason Kradman, explained his experience dealing with an emergency similar to Hamlin’s. 

“Luckily there were medical doctors on the field, also athletic trainers, athletic directors and all that type of stuff,” Kradman said. “The player was a priority at the time, and we made sure they had the best medical assistance while they were on the field, until the ambulance was able to get there and take the player to the hospital.” 

After a remarkable recovery just over a week after the incident, Hamlin is alive and stable at his home in Buffalo, although Buffalo was not always his home. Hamlin was born and raised in Pittsburgh, before attending the University of Pittsburgh in order to stay close to home.

Hamlin was the Buffalo Bill’s sixth-round draft pick in the 2021 draft.

The Bill’s first game back after the injury was at 1 p.m. on Jan. 8 against divisional rivals, the New England Patriots. On the first play of the game, there was a sensational kickoff return for a touchdown where again, would happen in the second half for a football miracle. This gave all who were watching chills. 

Kradman concluded by explaining his thoughts on the incident and what can be an eye-opener for small football programs.

“I think [cardiac arrest] is probably something high schools and certainly smaller college athletic programs should look at and use as a learning experience to try to make sure that in these situations, we’re prepared,” Kradman said.

It’s that preparation, training and access to equipment like AEDs that can ensure a healthy outcome should an athlete be injured.