HONOLULU (KHON2) — The collapse of NFL football player Damar Hamlin has raised concerns for parents of kids who play contact sports. Medical experts say it’s an extremely rare occurrence. But it’s important for schools to know how to deal with it.
Football has already raised concerns with concussions and spinal injuries. Monday night’s Jan. 2 football game gives some parents something else to worry about.
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“It’s hard to watch. I’m not gonna lie. My kids are all elite athletes. They all play to their full potential; and at any point, you have to be ready for them,” said parent Misty Bartolotti.
Medical experts believe Damar Hamlin suffered from cardiac arrest after making a tackle, and they say it is an extremely rare case.
“Since the 1990s, only about 200 reports of these have ever been made; and even if you account for under reporting, this is not something you would see every day,” said Dr. David Singh, a cardiac electrophysiologist at The Queen’s Health Systems.
Dr. Singh points out that the most important precaution to take is to be able to get the person’s heart pumping again after they collapse.
“So recognizing what happens on the field, if it happens on the field, and getting an external defibrillator to that person immediately increases the rate of survival by quite a bit,” he said.
Officials said schools are required to have certified athletic trainers at football games and practices, who then contact EMS when necessary.
“Whenever there is a catastrophic injury, whether it’s a head, neck or spine, we like to activate EMS to stabilize the athlete and prepare for it, should they stop breathing and if they lose consciousness,” said Nikki Awaya, president of the Hawaii Athletic Trainers’ Association.
AEDs or defibrillators are also an important part of the schools emergency action plan at football games. There’s at least one on each sideline.
Some schools also have a doctor on standby during the games. The Hawaii High School Athletic Association adds that during tournament games an ambulance is also nearby.
“We’re the only state that does this; so if this happened during a state tournament game, our response would’ve been very similar to how the NFL played out last night,” said Chris Chun, executive director of HHSAA.
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Chun said coaches are also required to get training on CPR, dealing with concussions and heat illness.