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When Football is Life-Changing

Monday Night Football. It’s a big stage. National game, millions of eyes, two great teams battling it out for playoff positions…this was going to be a game to remember. It was. Just not how we all thought or expected. Sitting in Paycor Stadium Monday night, the crowd was electric. It was loud, it was exciting, it was everything we expected…until it wasn’t. With roughly six minutes left in the first quarter, tragedy struck.

I have been going to Bills games for almost two decades and have been a fan since birth (it’s a family tradition). I’m a season ticket holder, I travel to at least one or two away games a season and what I experienced Monday night was something I have never experienced before and never want to again.  Damar Hamlin, Bills Safety, tackled Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins. It was your regular run of the mill football play. Hamlin got up, adjusted his face mask and helmet, then collapsed. Sitting in the stands we were all asking each other “Who is hurt?” “Did anyone see what happened?” Then the texts, phone calls, and social media information started to come in. They were administering CPR to Hamlin, his heart stopped beating.

It’s Bigger Than Football

At this point, my brain went into processing this medically, I’m a nurse. Thinking from that perspective, I know that high quality CPR administered quickly can have positive outcomes. The medical team Monday night did what they needed to do and did it quickly. For nine minutes they worked on him. Nine minutes, that felt like a lifetime. That’s when it hit me and I cried. I cried for his family, I cried for his younger brother, I cried for his teammates, I cried for my community who has been through so much. This young man, playing a game that he loved, literally died on the field and was brought back. The air in the stadium shifted, it was quiet, it was heartbreaking, it was surreal. As the ambulance left and information came that he had a pulse and was headed to a Level 1 trauma center, we all sighed with relief. This was bigger than football, this was bigger than a rivalry, this was life in the balance.

We’re One Team

What do we do now? How do we cope and process this? Act. Take a CPR/AED course. High quality CPR saves lives. It’s a skill you want to have, but never want to use. The American Heart Association and The American Red Cross both offer class. Check where the AED is located in your workplace and identify those who know how to use it. If your employer doesn’t have on, now might be the time for that investment.

Take Care of You

Take time to check in on yourself and the ones you love. With what we witnessed and what we’ve been through this past year, it’s important to take care of ourselves; take a social media break, pet your dog, talk to your circle, talk to a professional, you never know how this is affecting someone, unless you ask. We don’t have to go through this alone.

“If you get the chance to show some love today do it! It won’t cost you nothing.”-Damar Hamlin

Kathryn Clare Lanigan, BSN, RN

Go Bills

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