KANSAS CITY, Mo. — About one in every 100,000 young athletes like Damar Hamlin experience a sudden cardiac arrest each year according to researchers at the University of Washington.
It’s a terrifying situation that the Dwight family knows all too well after their young and healthy athlete collapsed, going into sudden cardiac arrest during a baseball lesson.
“That was the longest ten minutes of both of our lives,” coach and instructor Mike Mcfarlane said. “When you have four kids on your own and you see an 18-year-old, 17-year-old purple in the face gasping for life, you need to act.”
Seeing Damar Hamlin collapse during Monday night’s game against the Bills and Bengals took Mcfarlane and Davis’ family right back to that moment in August of 2022.
“I guess it was like PTSD, it just took you right to that moment and that feeling,” Davis’ mom Ashley Dwight said.
“When it happened, I said well it looked the receiver put his helmet or his shoulder pad right in his chest and it looks like he stopped his heart with that hit,” Mcfarlane said.
Davis’ coach performed chest compressions on him until paramedics arrived with an AED saving his life.
According to the National Institutes of Health, the most important factor in life or death for someone in cardiac arrest is how quickly they receive a shock from an AED; that’s why Ashley and Davis’ coaches are advocating for bystander CPR training and AED availability to help save as many lives as possible in those extremely crucial moments between life and death.
“I just think these waiting hours for this family to see what damage was done and what actually happened is so scary,” Dwight said thinking about Hamlin and his family. “But he was in the best place, with people to jump on and within ten seconds to be on the field to be giving him CPR is huge.”
After his collapse, the Davis family created “13 beats” to raise awareness about CPR training and access to AED’s. They trained more than 300 people in CPR at their first event and are holding another in February.
Doctors still don’t know why Davis collapsed, but his mom says he’s healthy and can’t wait for spring baseball season.