As Damar Hamlin continues to fight for his life, he may owe it to the quick actions of those paramedics on the field Monday night.
Cardiac arrest can be one of the most lethal medical emergencies and paramedics say that every minute – if not seconds – counts.
It’s a situation no one could see coming, Damar Hamlin, 24, a professional athlete on the field in cardiac arrest. Being prepared for any situation is what emergency service providers practice day in and day out, and the standards are no different for paramedics stationed at sporting events.
“I mean it’s very critical. It’s something that we check every single truck at the beginning of every shift just to make sure that you’re not missing any type of supplies because you don’t want to get to a scene and then all of a sudden be missing a critical piece of equipment,” said Randy Jagta, operations manager, Millcreek paramedics.
Millcreek Paramedic Services are on-site for all kinds of events in Erie – from marathons at Presque Isle to Erie Otters’ games and Erie School District sporting events.
Erie School District said they have contracted athletic trainers on-site for all athletic events, with ambulances on standby. Millcreek paramedics shared with WJET what they look for when they’re on standby at athletic events.
“It all depends on what we’re doing. If it’s a triathlon down at Presque Isle and it’s 90 degrees out, we look more for heat casualty-type events than what we do at a hockey game, where you’re watching for head trauma and those types of things. Football – you’re just paying attention to the whole game,” said Jagta.
An emergency medicine physician said that the initial response from paramedics on site very well may have saved his life.
“You never know when this is going to happen. When it happens, you really need to act quickly. You need to activate the 911 system, and you need to provide services when you’re on-site. Bystander CPR and bystander AED use is hugely effective.” said Fred Mirarchi, emergency medicine physician, E2A2 sports complex.
Medical experts said that what happened was likely extremely rare and added that the window of opportunity for a hit like that to cause cardiac arrest is just 0.03 milliseconds long.