People across America have been following the situation involving a National Football League player who required cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) on the field during a game this week (Jan. 2, 2023). Medical staff applied C-P-R and a defibrillator shock to Buffalo Bills’ player Damar Hamlin after he collapsed on the field.

The American Heart Association’s Chrissy Meyer says trained professionals aren’t the only people who can help in these situations. She says these medical emergencies occur anywhere and knowing how to respond can make a huge difference in the outcome.

“CPR, when performed properly, can re-oxygenate the brain. So, if you start CPR right away and call 9-1-1, you can get that person the help that they need in an immediate timeframe.”

South Dakota law mandates that high school students receive CPR training as part of their graduation requirements. Meyer says the general public can learn either the “hands-only” technique or get full certification involving breathing. Either way, she says, having these tools can be crucial in a largely rural state.

“In rural areas, it sometimes can take a little bit longer for first responders to react, and that’s why we feel it’s so important to have trained bystanders – have everyone know CPR.”

Each year in the U-S, an estimated 350-thousand people experience sudden cardiac arrest outside of a hospital setting, but the Heart Association says only around 40% of the people in North America know CPR. Approximately one in 10 people survive an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest– so having more bystanders who know how to correctly perform CPR can boost survival numbers.

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