When Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin dropped to the ground from a cardiac arrest earlier this month, help was by his side in under 10 seconds to administer CPR. It wasn’t coincidence or luck. Rather, it’s the result of careful planning and practice – the execution of detailed choreography performed by the medical personnel present at every National Football League game. Saving Hamlin’s life was the ultimate test. ‘What we want is that the players are getting the same care here that they would if they were in a hospital or health care facility and that’s what the system has been set up to do,’ NFL Chief Medical Officer Dr. Allen Sills told CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta on Saturday. About 30 medical personnel are at every game, including orthopedic and trauma specialists, athletic trainers, paramedics and dentists. Sills gave CNN a rare behind-the-scenes look at the league’s medical personnel during Saturday’s playoff game between the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Los Angeles Chargers. The goal, Sills said, is to deliver hospital-quality care on the gridiron. When Hamlin collapsed on January 2, speed was of the essence. Studies find that for every minute someone who experiences cardiac arrest and doesn’t receive CPR, their chances of survival decrease 7 to 10%. Hamlin’s heart was restarted on the field. The 24-year-old spent more than a week in the hospital in Cincinnati, then transferred to a hospital in Buffalo before he was released home last week. Sills said that being on the field was likely a factor for Hamlin: Survival is more likely for someone who experiences cardiac arrest in the hospital. One study found that 10 to 12% those who have cardiac arrest outside of the hospital survive to discharge, but that survival rate more than doubled for those who experienced cardiac arrest in the hospital. ‘I think he was being resuscitated as he would have been in an emergency room at that moment,’ Sills said.
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