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Bills safety Damar Hamlin in critical condition after receiving CPR on field – Boston Herald


Sam Farmer

The NFL took the unprecedented step of suspending play Monday night after Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin collapsed on the field in Cincinnati, and — while shocked and weeping teammates watched — was administered CPR and transported by ambulance to a local hospital.

Hamlin, 24, climbed to his feet after making a jarring but otherwise unremarkable tackle of Cincinnati Bengals receiver Tee Higgins, then stumbled and seemed to lose consciousness as he fell backward to the turf. From the various TV angles, the impact of the tackle did not appear to be to Hamlin’s head or neck but to his chest.

Players who saw Hamlin lying face up and motionless frantically called for medical personnel, and an ambulance was brought onto the field.

Players from both teams formed something of a human wall around the scene, many in tears. The stunned crowd anticipating one of the biggest showdowns of the NFL season watched in near silence, the game only nine minutes old, with Cincinnati leading, 7-3. Dozens of players from both teams formed a circle and knelt in prayer. The game was halted with six minutes remaining in the opening quarter.

Medical personnel reportedly performed CPR on Hamlin for nine minutes, including the use of an automated external defibrillator. At some point, the player was intubated, clearing the way for him to get oxygen, various media reports said.

“This is where every second or minute counts,” said Dr. Rigved Tadwalkar, a cardiologist at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, speaking generally about a lack of oxygen to the brain.

“The amount of time that you don’t profuse the brain is a higher possibility of having irreversible brain damage in those first several minutes that we would really want to have a successful resuscitation.”

Tadwalkar, while careful not to attempt to specifically diagnose Hamlin from afar, said the injury appeared to have the hallmarks of catastrophic chest trauma.

“If there appeared to be head trauma, then that would open the door to other things,” he said. “But outside of that, it would likely be one of these things: Either he had some type of undiagnosed condition and this was sort of a routine play that kind of pushed things over the edge, or he was perfectly fine and was unlucky and had the wrong type of injury at the wrong time that caused structural or electrical heart issues.”

Hamlin’s family was at the game, and according to various reports, his mother rode in the ambulance with her son to University of Cincinnati Medical Center, the only Level 1 trauma hospital in the region. The medical facility is about two miles from the stadium.

The field was cleared, with both teams returning to their locker rooms. Bills coach Sean McDermott and Bengals coach Zac Taylor convened outside the visitors’ locker room and spoke by phone to league officials in New York, and the NFL officially suspended play.

The NFL released a statement: “Hamlin received immediate medical attention on the field by team and independent medical staff and local paramedics. He was then transported to a local hospital where he is in critical condition.”

Troy Vincent, the NFL’s executive vice president of football operations and former player, said on a late-night conference call that he was in constant communication with the coaches, game officials and commissioner Roger Goodell.

“We just wanted to make sure that we were doing right by Damar,” Vincent said, and the former cornerback added, “I’ve never seen anything like it since I’ve been playing. Immediately, my player hat went on.”

During the hour before that announcement was made, the reaction on social media was swift and vociferous in demanding the game be suspended. “Call the Game” trended on Twitter, and players around the league voiced their prayers and support of Hamlin, who played football at the University of Pittsburgh.

“The game is not important. Damar Hamlin’s life is important,” Arizona Cardinals defensive lineman J.J. Watt tweeted. “Please be ok. Please.”

Concern about the situation stretched well beyond the NFL. Lakers star LeBron James said: “My thoughts and super prayers go up to the skies above for that kid’s family, for him, for that brotherhood of the NFL and everybody a part of the NFL family.”

Though the Bills were scheduled to return to Buffalo on a midnight flight, some of Hamlin’s teammates elected to stay in Cincinnati to be near him.

Times staff writer Dan Woike contributed to this report.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.

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