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Damar Hamlin's collapse renews interest in CPR certification

a man in a white shirt and black pants wears a mask and practices administering cpr on a dummy laying on a red mat
Martin Splitt
The American Heart Association says traffic to the organization's CPR training page jumped by 200% since Monday night when Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin went into cardiac arrest on the field.

Alyson Poling is the executive director of the American Heart Association of Greater Cincinnati. As a Bengals fan, on Monday night she was one of the millions of live TV viewers who witnessed Buffalo Bills' safety Damar Hamlin suddenly go into what we now know was cardiac arrest during the first quarter of the Monday Night Football game in Cincinnati.

What initially looked like a routine tackle quickly turned into a serious emergency situation that required swift action from first responders on the sidelines.

"We were all thinking, 'This is not going well, something really bad must have happened to him,' " Poling said.

CPR was administered to Hamlin and his heartbeat was restarted on the field in front of teammates and fans before he was rushed to the UC Medical Center for further treatment. He remains there in critical condition.

RELATED: Hamlin showing 'signs of improvement' Buffalo Bills say

While the incident was a shocking and sobering moment for everybody watching, Hamlin's injury has led to a dramatic increase in the number of people interested in receiving CPR training and certification.

The American Heart Association says traffic to the organization's CPR training page jumped by 200% since Monday night.

CPR trainings down following COVID

According to Poling, the number of people actively seeking CPR certification dropped dramatically during the pandemic. She also noted that many schools that used to provide CPR certification to students no longer offer it due to the strain put on school systems after years of COVID.

"Unfortunately people are not giving bystander CPR [training] as regularly as they were pre-COVID," she says. "So, think of like, getting near somebody, touching them, getting in their space... Bystander CPR is way down and if there's one thing positive we can take away, it's that CPR and using an AED is getting a lot of attention right now."

Poling stressed the importance of the quick response Hamlin received and the need to make training accessible so more people are able to save lives if they find themselves in a similar situation.

The American Heart Association of Cincinnati encourages everyone to take a few minutes to find CPR training courses and resourcesonline. The organization also has Hands-Only CPR Training Kiosks around the Cincinnati area in locations like the airport, Cincinnati Museum Center, and the Duke Energy Convention Center. More locations around the country can be found online.

Those looking for more advanced training can find in-person classes and resources through the American Heart Association.

Zack Carreon is Education reporter for WVXU, covering local school districts and higher education in the Tri-State area.