ST. CHARLES, Mo. – Knowing how to perform CPR can save someone’s life.

The world saw it firsthand when medical staff revived Damar Hamlin when he suffered a cardiac arrest during Monday Night Football. Doctors say Hamlin is making promising progress in his recovery, but he’s not out of the woods just yet.

This is why the St. Charles City Fire Department is encouraging people to learn CPR.

“The situation that occurred with Damar Hamlin, I think, kind of peaked an interest in the nation on what exactly CPR and AED usage is, and how it can really be used to save a life,” Fire Capt. Kelly Hunsel said.

The use of a defibrillator and chest compressions helped revive Hamlin after that shocking moment on the football field.

“CPR really does is it helps perfuse those really vital organs, especially the brain,” Hunsel said.

Hamlin, the 24-year-old Bills safety, went into cardiac arrest after a first-quarter tackle against the Cincinnati Bengals.

“You don’t have to be an NFL physician or a trainer or even a paramedic to do exactly what they were doing on the field to save Damar Hamlin’s life,” Hunsel said.

The SCFD held a free CPR and AED class over the weekend, and they do this once a month.

“It really empowers people, I think, if they’re in the community and they see an emergency, to step in and do something,” she said.

The course takes about two hours to complete. Hunsel recommends getting recertified every two years. She recommends people of all ages learn this life-saving skill.

“{Cardiac arrest} occurs in our communities across Missouri, across the country, every single day,” Hunsel said. “The more people feel empowered to intervene to provide that care, whether it’s at a public place or it may be in your own home, we can do a lot when we show up on the scene with advanced measures. But those patients don’t have great outcomes unless they’ve had good bystander CPR initially. It really takes the whole community pulling together to create positive outcomes.”

In 2022, the SCFD responded to 55 cardiac arrests where a bystander attempted resuscitation. Bystander CPR was performed on 36% of those patients. Hunsel said 60% of patients who survived had bystander CPR.

“It really goes to show if you’ve got bystander CPR being performed, you have a much higher chance of survival,” Hunsel said.

To find out where to get CPR certified, reach out to your local fire or EMS agency. You can also reach out directly to the Red Cross or the American Heart Association. They offer both online and in-person classes.


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