March 27, 2023
The NFL announced Monday the launch of The Smart Heart Sports Coalition, a nationwide advocacy campaign to prevent fatal outcomes from sudden cardiac arrest among high school athletes. The launch is part of a collaboration between several groups, including the American Heart Association, American Red Cross and the Chasing M’s Foundation — a charity founded by Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin. Hamlin suffered a cardiac arrest during his team’s Week 17 home game against the Cincinnati Bengals in January.
“I’m honored to support the NFL’s work to encourage all 50 states to adopt policies to protect youth,” Hamlin said. “This work pushes forward the idea that every high school should have an athletic emergency plan, coaches should be CPR and AED trained and athletic fields should have clearly marked AEDs within a moment’s reach. These efforts can help save the lives of student athletes impacted by sudden cardiac arrest.”
The coalition is advocating for the implementation of three evidence-based policies in all 50 states to prevent death from sudden cardiac arrest. Just seven states have implemented all three policies. 12 states have none.
Damar Hamlin Joins The Smart Heart Sports Coalition
▪ Emergency Action Plans (EAPs) for each high school athletic venue that are widely distributed, posted, rehearsed and updated annually;
▪ Clearly marked automated external defibrillator (AEDs) at each athletic venue or within 1-3 minutes of each venue where high school practices or competitions are held; and,
▪ CPR and AED education for coaches.
“The simple goal of this effort is to save lives. These common-sense policies are simple, proven steps that are critical for student athlete safety,” said Jeff Miller, NFL Executive Vice President of Communications, Public Affairs and Policy. “Schools in every state should have policies in place to deliver CPR effectively. Have immediate access to an AED, and know what to do in case of an emergency. Student athletes deserve it.”
The Smart Heart Sports Coalition sent letters to 43 governors where additional policies are needed. The NFL Foundation has committed more than $1 million in grants to support nationwide CPR education and AED access.
Will Damar Hamlin Play Football Again?
It’s still unknown if Hamlin, 25, will return to play in the NFL again. Though he’s made a remarkable recovery since being administered CPR on the field, Bills head coach Sean McDermott recently offered a straight-up analysis of where things stand.
“The amount of courage it’s going to take to re-engage again is unbeknownst to many of us,” McDermott said Saturday. “I’m ready to support him in any direction he decides to go, even if it’s last minute… The best thing we can do is support him all the way through this. And that is a big piece of it that is, mind, body and spirit. It’s just not physically like, hey, in the weight room, it’s the mental piece as well.”