School’s cardiac arrest survivor reflects on staff’s preparedness following Hamlin incident

That training returns to the top of mind following Hamlin’s incident, especially for staff members who have experienced a similar emergency firsthand.
Published: Jan. 10, 2023 at 5:56 PM CST
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PASS CHRISTIAN, Miss. (WLOX) - Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin’s on-field cardiac arrest is now bringing emergency preparedness to the forefront.

CPR was immediately performed on Hamlin for nine minutes, and he was resuscitated with a defibrillator before being transported to the hospital.

It’s that kind of medical response the Pass Christian School District trains to be capable of.

“The first thing that went through my mind is, ‘Are we doing everything we can as a school and as a coach to make sure my kids are safe?’” Pass Christian High athletic director Ricky Smith said.

Health and safety are key at Pass Christian High on and off the field.

“I feel very safe,” student-athlete Terry Patton Jr. said. “We have probably the best training on the Coast, to be honest.”

That training returns to the top of mind following Hamlin’s incident, especially for staff members who have experienced a similar emergency firsthand.

Mikki Cuevas was a secretary at Pass Christian High for a decade.

About five years ago, she went into sudden cardiac arrest while sitting right at the front desk.

“They grabbed the AED and someone from the cafeteria who had knowledge of using all that, and everyone just came together,” she told WLOX. “Their training is what did it.”

An AED is an automated external defibrillator, and it’s a device Cuevas now advocates for businesses everywhere to have handy.

“I think only 10% of people out of 100 survive if it doesn’t happen at a hospital,” Cuevas said. “So, training and AEDs are definitely a lifesaver.”

“It was one of those things that just happened very quickly, like what you saw on the Monday night football game,” Smith said. “And, thankfully, we had people here on our campus that were prepared.”

Smith is now ensuring that he and his team are prepared for anything.

“We have AED machines throughout each one of our buildings and at each one of our athletic facilities that are available any time an emergency comes up,” he said. “All of our coaches have two-year CPR certifications and AED certifications.”

Student-athletes who spoke with WLOX said they feel like they are in good hands.

“Whatever our medical needs are, we’re, you know, beyond fulfilled with that,” Gus Simpson said. “We have everything we need, and all of our players are safe.”

Teacher Jennifer Frye trains and certifies students and other staff members on campus in CPR.

“It only takes one time for us to need it to be glad that we were prepared,” she said. “And that’s real life. And the more authentic learning and real-world we can bring, the better for everybody.”

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