TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — When the Buffalo Bills’ football player Damar Hamlin suddenly collapsed during a Monday Night Football game in January, he had near-instant CPR and medical attention. That incident, as well as recent news about a fan giving CPR to another fan at a Rays game, has put heart health in the headlines.
“Cardiac arrest and cardiovascular disease is the number one killer in this country,” said AdventHealth EMS Specialist Alexander Tubonjic.
After the aforementioned incidents — and plenty that are out of the headlines every day — AdventHealth West Florida and the Bucs got together to provide staffers with a free CPR certification course.
“The Damar Hamlin incident really opened up everybody’s eyes because it put it in the spotlight,” Tubonjic said. “Nobody had a chance to look away, everybody had to a chance to see what an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest is all about.”
The hands-on training taught staffers to recognize the signs of cardiac arrest, perform CPR, and use an automated external defibrillator, or AED.
“Once you recognize that there is a patient down in cardiac arrest, you want to reach out, call 911, activate emergency services,” said Tubonjic. “Once you’ve done that, you want to step in and perform chest compressions.”
AdventHealth said the training was tailored to the Bucs football operations staff based on their roles and responsibilities.
“Today’s training is just to give people the confidence to be able to respond,” said Bucs Chief Operating Officer Brian Ford. “Everybody wants to respond, it’s just, do they have the confidence to do so and the knowledge to be able to do it?”
Ford emphasized that cardiac arrests can happen any day.
“You don’t have the warning, you don’t have the luxury of somebody saying that this is going to happen today,” Ford said. “So you have to be prepared.”
The EMS specialists said if you’re unsure how to perform CPR, call 911 and the operator can help.
“You can make a difference,” said Tubonjic. “Anybody can take this class, anybody can go out there and save a life. And that’s what this is all about.”