When a professional football player goes into cardiac arrest on the field in front of a nationally televised audience, do we grow from experiencing this catastrophic event and work toward prevention, or do we remain witnesses?
Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin recently visited the White House where he was welcomed by President Joe Biden and members of his team. Hamlin, whose season ended last fall during a Monday night game when he suffered cardiac arrest following a collision, made a proposal for what could be the future for the NFL and football players all around the globe.
Hamlin appeared with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Rep. Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick, D-Fla., to discuss a bill that would increase access to defibrillators in public and private elementary and secondary schools. A defibrillator helped save Hamlin’s life, and he has started campaigning for the use of CPR equipment in schools to boost the chances of saving lives.
For universities such as Florida A&M, this could mean more safety and precaution for the school’s student-athletes.
Aside from high schools, there are approximately 893 colleges spanning five different division levels with football programs in the United States.
If successful with his proposal, Hamlin could have a positive impact on tens of thousands of athletes.
Kendall Bohler, a cornerback for FAMU, believes Hamlin’s proposal is helpful for athletes like himself.
“I definitely feel like this would be effective for FAMU athletics,” Bohler said. “This is great information for athletes to know because they themselves never know when their last play could be or they never know when things can happen on the field so this could make the field a much safer place.”
Tanya Tatum, the director of Student Health Services at FAMU, thinks expanding CPR equipment would be a good thing for the university if the opportunity presents itself.
“Giving the information out about what we need to do to help save a life in the event of a sudden cardiac arrest and making sure people are aware of AEDs and CPR training is so important,” Tatum said. “I think that everything Damar Hamlin is doing right now to bring more awareness to the problem can’t do anything but help save lives, so I’m all for it.”
Hamlin’s story impacted those beyond the field, especially those heavily involved in covering sports for various media.
Trelvin Payne, a commentator with “The Playmakers,” a sports talk show on FAMU’s 90.5, believes that Hamlin’s proposal is a step toward making athletes feel safer on the field.
“I think this would definitely have an effect on FAMU athletics simply because it shows that they genuinely care for the health of our athletes,” Payne said. “It’ll be reassuring for the parents of the athletes as well because I think as an athlete you would immediately feel safer playing a physical sport like football following Hamlin’s incident knowing your trainers have equipment on standby that can save your life if necessary.”