Damar Hamlin’s recovery could depend on how long he was in cardiac arrest after he collapsed mid-game Monday night, Dr. Anthony Cardillo, an emergency room specialist, told CNN early Tuesday morning.
“The primary concern is the length of time that he was not having cardiac activity,” Cardillo said. “Every second counts.””
Hamlin was playing safety for the Buffalo Bills on Monday night when he suddenly collapsed after a tackle on Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins. Hamlin stood up immediately after the tackle and then fell on his back seconds later.
CPR was administered almost immediately after he collapsed, and medical personnel were able to revive his heartbeat while he was still at the field.
The Bills later said he suffered a cardiac arrest and was in critical condition as of early Tuesday morning at a Cincinnati hospital. Cardiac arrest happens when the heart suddenly stops pumping blood to the body’s organs.
“If you get hit at a very exact moment, it’s within milliseconds … that’s when you’re in cardiac arrest.”
As Hamlin continued to receive treatment Tuesday, Cardillo explained that medical staff will likely slowly start weaning Hamlin off the ventilator over the next 12 to 24 hours to determine whether he can breathe on his own.
“We know that he’s a young 24, healthy, conditioned athlete. He’s in the greatest possible situation to come back to a normal life at this point, but our prayers are with him to make sure he does recover like that,” Cardillo said.
Damar Hamlin’s collapse was “horrifying,” says reporter who was at the stadium
Kelsey Conway, a reporter who covers the Bengals for the Cincinnati Enquirer, said the scene on the field was “horrifying” after Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin collapsed Monday night.
“It seemed to be very bad when they weren’t moving,” Conway told CNN’s John Berman early Tuesday, referring to medical personnel who were attending to Hamlin.
Conway said based on games she has covered, medical personnel try to move players off the field as quickly as possible. But that wasn’t the case with Hamlin as responders struggled to get him into the ambulance.
““It was just a really tragic, horrifying scene,” Conway said.”
As she sat in the stadium’s press box, she could not determine what was happening to Hamlin as medical staff rushed to provide aid.
“It was really unclear what exactly was going on. We knew it had something to do with the heart,” Conway said, adding that visiting Bills players and their head coach were in tears.
“You knew something tragic happened, but you just didn’t know,” she said.
Later, the Bills said Hamlin suffered cardiac arrest and remained in critical condition early Tuesday. Hamlin fell on his back Monday night just moments after standing up from an open field tackle on Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins.
Conway said the NFL’s Emergency Action Plan was activated in response to Hamlin’s collapse. The plan included an ambulance, a nearby highest Level 1 trauma center and airway traffic control, she said.
“They never want things like this to happen, but they are prepared for situations like this. And they were able to get him to better care as quickly as they could,” Conway said. “He had a police escort take him in the ambulance. So, he got there pretty quickly.”