Serious NFL injury shining light on CPR awareness

Published: Jan. 3, 2023 at 6:39 PM PST
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VANCOUVER Wash. (KPTV) - It was a moment that shocked millions of people around the country.

Damar Hamlin, a 24-year-old professional football player, collapsed unexpectedly after making a tackle during Monday Night Football’s game between the Buffalo Bills and the Cincinnati Bengals. Hours after he was taken to a local hospital, the Buffalo Bills confirmed Hamlin went into cardiac arrest on the field.

Ben Wu was with his friend Colby Clay when Clay’s mother sent him the article about Hamlin’s sudden cardiac arrest. Wu is credited for saving Clay’s life in 2018 after he collapsed during lacrosse practice at West View High School.

“It was shocking to know that it could be the same condition Colby had in 2018,” Wu said.

Clay was hit in the chest with a lacrosse ball. The impact induced cardiac arrest.

“When he wasn’t moving I knew something was wrong and I did the initial assessment and I immediately got into CPR.”

Wu’s initial reaction to start CPR on Clay is credited for saving his life.

“It’s a very traumatic experience, it definitely took me back to that day and reminded me of the importance of first aid in any situation,” Wu said.

At Clark County Fire District Station 6, first responders are wanting the public to know how critical being able to administer CPR can be.

“Time is everything, so the longer they’re down without CPR, with each second, each minute that goes by and something isn’t being done the survival rate drops dramatically,” Eric Simukka, the EMS training captain for Clark County Fire said.

Simukka is the one in charge of teaching CPR to new EMTs.

“The mantra we teach people is to push hard and fast,” Simukka said as he showed FOX 12 a demonstration. “110 times a minute for two minutes at 2.4 inches depth, we’ll keep doing that.”

He also showed FOX 12 other devices like an AED. They’re CPR machines that use electrical currents to stimulate the heart. Many officers, schools, libraries, and other public places have one in the building. Then there is “Lucas.” This machine was bought through a bond measure and consistently applies compressions to the chest. Though Lucas is for training EMTs, both Simukka and Wu said if you want to help your community, take a CPR class.

“The only reason why I was able to act and save Colby’s life was that I had that training and it was pure luck,” Wu said. “If you don’t want to feel helpless in those kinds of situations be proactive, get your basic CPR certification.”