Collapse of Damar Hamlin drives interest in local defibrillator sales

Anthony Wilson Image
Wednesday, January 4, 2023
Defibrillator sales increase after Hamlin's cardiac arrest
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Defibrillator sales increase after Hamlin's cardiac arrest

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Prayers for Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin continue after his collapse and subsequent diagnosis of cardiac arrest.

"In the case of this player, it sounds like they were able to use a defibrillator, which is a machine that shocks the heart back into a normal rhythm while he was on the field," Cardiologist Christopher Kelly said. "Still, only a few minutes passed until he started getting normal blood flow. But that period where there isn't blood flow can harm organs ranging from the brain to the kidneys, to anything else."

That's a message that reached potential defibrillator customers who contacted Chris Mills, a former paramedic who now markets the devices. His business received about 50 inquiries during the days that followed the dramatic moments on Monday Night Football.

"You can't just wait for EMS or fire departments to arrive," he said while using a mannequin to demonstrate how defibrillators work. "You have to get bystanders involved to do high quality CPR."

Dr. Kelly recommends taking a course in CPR to prepare for potential emergencies, and knowing how to recognize symptoms.

"A heart attack can trigger a cardiac arrest if it's severe, but you don't need to have a heart attack to have a cardiac arrest. Because a stopping of the heart from pumping can happen for a variety of reasons," he said.

Mills says even without prior training, you can save a life if you're familiar with the devices.

"That defibrillator shocks the heart. It sends an electrical impulse from one pad to the other pad, hopefully to get that heart to restart itself and beat back on its own again," said Mills.

Dr. Kelly said, "Every second literally counts. Because until the heart rhythm's restored, the brain's not getting any blood flow. So starting CPR immediately is critical. Thankfully in young, otherwise healthy people who experience an event like this and start getting CPR immediately, the outcomes are often very good."