Salem Fire and EMS urges CPR training after Damar Hamlin incident

A hands-only type of CPR is commonly used by bystanders

SALEM, Va. – Cardiac arrest is top of mind after Damar Hamlin collapsed on the field during the Bills game Monday.

Medical professionals are now pushing for everyone to be CPR certified - even if they don’t work in healthcare or as a first responder - now more than ever.

Salem Fire and EMS Chief John Prillaman said you never know when it could happen to someone you love.

“We never know when a cardiac event could happen. If it’s a family member or friend or even if you’re in the mall shopping,” Prillaman said. “If we can get someone to start bystander CPR, the chances of that person surviving more than doubles.”

Anyone can get certified.

“Some of our CPR classes take more than a day, sometimes two days on the professional side,” Prillaman said. “But this is a way that we are able to teach CPR within an hour or two, and somebody could make a difference.”

On Wednesday, the entire Salem Fire and EMS crew got recertified in CPR. They are required to get recertified every two years.

CPR has long been taught as chest compressions with breaths, but Prillaman said even just compressions make a world of difference.

“Even the hands-only CPR gets the blood pumping and gets oxygen to the brain and to the rest of the body,” he said.

Some people are nervous that they will hurt the person with CPR, but it can save their life.

“We have seen some people get a little nervous, a little scared when they’re having to do it,” he said. “But when you’re really trained well when the event does happen it kicks in and you start doing the CPR.”

Salem has been the effects of bystander CPR just a few weeks ago.

“The lady was driving her car when she went into cardiac arrest,” he said. “The lady behind her was able to initiate bystander CPR. It makes all the difference in the world.”

Experts remind people that child CPR requires a different technique than adult CPR.

Several organizations in our area offer CPR certification classes including the Red Cross, American Heart Association, and the Compress and Shock Foundation. Learn more by clicking on the highlighted organization.

About the Author:

Abbie Coleman officially joined the WSLS 10 News team in January 2023.