More than 350,000 people experience out-of-hospital cardiac arrests in the United States each year, according to the American Heart Association. One of those happened on live television when Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin collapsed during a football game on Jan. 2.
Hamlin was lucky in the sense there were trained medical professionals on the sidelines that immediately rushed to his side. They performed CPR and restarted his heart with an automated external defibrillator (AED), a small, lightweight device that automatically analyzes the heart rhythm and when appropriate, delivers an electrical shock to restore the heart’s normal rhythm.
Yet how many everyday average Americans know CPR or how to use an AED? A 2019 survey commissioned by Cintas Corp. found that 63% of respondents reported a lack of confidence in using an AED, and only 54 percent said they felt comfortable administering CPR.
Staff at Bothwell Regional Health Center and a Bothwell Foundation committee are doing their part to increase education and awareness by ensuring the public has access to these lifesaving skills and devices.
Kim Perez, Bothwell’s Clinical Education director, said Hamlin’s high-profile collapse and survival story have shone a new light on learning CPR and about AEDs.
“There certainly has been a lot of conversation and interest in learning the warning signs of sudden cardiac arrest and how important immediate care is to survival,” she said.
Perez said Bothwell will offer four CPR/AED and First Aid classes this year with the first one scheduled for March 11.
“The CPR/AED class is from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., and the fee is $35,” she said. “The course teaches people how to provide CPR to an adult, child or infant and how to use an AED for adults and children.”
People may also sign up for a course on first aid for adults and children that is from 12:30 to 3:30 pm for $35. The fee for both classes is $50. Typical participants in these classes include corporate and retail employees, security, law enforcement, health and fitness staff, parents and grandparents. Special classes can be arranged for large groups.
Perez is also a member of Wear Red for Women, a Bothwell Foundation committee that has made a mission out of raising funds to place AEDs in as many possible locations in Sedalia and Pettis County. So far, 47 AEDs have been placed in or committed to public event venues, churches, sports complexes and more
“I’ve supported the Wear Red event since the first one in 2020 and been a member of the committee since 2021,” she said. “It’s a fun group of women and it’s been amazing to watch the event grow and know the donations stay local to help our community.”
The fourth annual Wear for Red Women luncheon and auction is Feb. 24 at The Foundry in downtown Sedalia. In-person tickets are sold out; however, free tickets for online bidding and sponsorships for all or part of the $1,700 cost of an AED are still available.
For more information or to register for Bothwell’s CPR/AED class, contact Bothwell Education Center at email@example.com or call 660-827-9516. To learn more about Wear Red for Women and AED placement in the community, visit brhc.org/wear-red.