Buffalo Bills’ Damar Hamlin marked the one-year anniversary of his cardiac arrest with a heart-shaped tattoo, symbolizing his journey back to health. He collapsed during a game in January 2022, enduring conspiracy theories related to COVID-19 vaccinations. Thankfully, he survived and made a remarkable return to the football field in October. Hamlin’s story prompted awareness about sudden cardiac arrests (SCA) in sports.

Dr. Dermot Phelan, a sports cardiologist, emphasized the importance of SCA readiness in schools and sports teams. He urged institutions to have automated external defibrillators (AEDs), trained staff, and emergency response plans. While professional sports set the standard with prepared medical teams, colleges and high schools exhibited significant variation in their preparedness. Phelan also highlighted disparities, with Black male athletes at higher risk of SCA.

He encouraged people to inquire about AEDs, trained staff, and CPR training policies in their schools and colleges. Advocating for laws requiring AEDs and trained staff at all facilities could bridge gaps and ensure athlete safety nationwide.