Guest Essays, Opinion

Guest essay: Former WVU star reminds that, in a rural state like West Virginia, CPR is critical for people to know

by Darryl “Truck” Bryant

On Jan. 2, the world watched as Buffalo Bills player Damar Hamlin collapsed during an NFL football game against the Cincinnati Bengals. On-site medical personnel quickly removed his safety pads, performed CPR and applied an automated external defibrillator (AED) until the ambulance arrived. Hamlin, who is 24 years old, suffered a cardiac arrest — an electrical malfunction of the heart causing it to stop beating abruptly.

This experience is spurring a national dialogue on cardiac arrest and the importance of emergency intervention like CPR and the use of an AED.

As a former Mountaineer and professional athlete, I am a proud volunteer with the American Heart Association because I know that raising awareness about emergency intervention, heart disease, heart attack and stroke saves lives. We just watched this scene play out over live television with millions watching.

I am encouraging the West Virginia Legislature to support the American Heart Association this year and pass important legislation that will turn high school students into potential lifesavers, equipped with the skills to administer CPR. The passage of legislation requiring CPR be taught in grades 9-12 in 2016 was the first step and now the Legislature can provide resources and encourage certification of students through a small budget that will make a big impact.

I ask our fellow Mountaineers to contact your legislators and tell them that you want to see this happen. So much of our beloved Mountain State is rural, and in many areas it could take EMT crews 45 minutes to an hour to reach someone suffering from cardiac arrest.

Administering CPR can mean the difference between life and death. The American Heart Association states that for every minute someone doesn’t receive CPR, their chances of surviving cardiac arrest reduce by roughly 10%. Within five minutes, someone has a 50/50 chance of survival. Simply put, CPR saves lives.

Join the American Heart Association’s “You’re the Cure Network” to receive up-to-date information on CPR bills and to be able to easily contact your elected officials. Visit today.

As we watch Damar heal, we hope that others can have the chance to live because someone knew CPR, too. Together, we can pass policy that saves lives.

Darryl “Truck” Bryant is a former WVU (2008-12) and professional basketball player. He is now a business owner, podcast host and American Heart Association volunteer.