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Damar Hamlin incident makes students and staff reflect on medical emergency preparedness



Second floor AED machine
Second floor AED machine

In light of the recent Damar Hamlin incident, students and parents may be wondering what would happen if a similar event transpired at a West High sporting event, or just generally on campus. In the event of a code blue, a medical emergency, there are two staff members in each section of the school that are certified in CPR, one of each can operate an AED machine. In addition to this, there are three more staff members who respond to any code blue across campus. According to Jeremy Emmons, West’s athletic trainer, AEDs are, “...located throughout the school in strategic areas so that no one is too far away from one if needed.” AED machines use a burst of electricity to artificially restore the natural rhythm of the heart.


In the event of a medical emergency at a sporting event, Emmons stated, “As the athletic trainer for West High I always have an AED with me at games and practices that I am at. I am contracted from Rehab Group of Morristown to provide my athletic training services to West High. In that contract it states that I am to be at all football games (home and away) and practices along with all home games for other sports. In some seasons it becomes difficult to cover all events, especially when sports play at the same time and have overlapping schedules.”


Emmons also had insight as to the nature and cause of the incident, “Watching the game I was unsure what happened initially. It looked like a clean, routine hit. It wasn't until they started signaling for more help on the field that it became apparent that he had a cardiac event. From reading all the reports it says he suffered from commotio cordis. That is when the heart or chest area is struck for a fraction of a second during the repolarization of the ventricles of the heart. This blow to the heart at that exact moment causes ventricular fibrillation, a time when the ventricles quiver instead of contract and relax like normal.” Hamlin is now stable and recovering.


This incident has made people more wary of medical emergencies during sporting events and in general. All freshman wellness classes certify students in CPR. These certificates last two years. Kayla Apimwar, freshman, states, “I’m glad if someone were in trouble, I’d know what to do.”


Students, Ignacio Vargas (R) and Alma Hernandez Lopez (L) practice CPR on a dummy
Students, Ignacio Vargas (R) and Alma Hernandez Lopez (L) practice CPR on a dummy

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