Damar Hamlin died doing what he loved to do — playing football — but the NFL wants its players to live long and prosper, so the league ensured that his life went on.
Highly trained experts stood ready for the electrical short circuit that occurred in Hamlin’s heart during the game. Known as “v-fib,” it’s the same cardiac misfire that happens to airline travelers, casino gamblers, and teens playing high school basketball daily. Thankfully, after Hamlin collapsed in sudden cardiac arrest following a routine tackle, the NFL’s team saved the man’s life and today we collectively celebrate his rebirth.
Some people have rushed to take AED and CPR classes with Hamlin in mind, choosing to be ready for their chance to save one of the thousands who collapse annually. Preparedness creates strength and boosts our courage in a crisis.
There is much more action we can take but let us also pause to reflect on how we are living our lives right now — in the very intimate and silent moments between each of our heart beats.
We spend a lot of time and energy fussing and fighting. As we struggle over possessions — from who gets the football to who has political power — we view amazing humans as “others.” That person is not like “me;” they’re not like “us.” I stoke my fear of losing something when I double down on believing that we’re different.
Saving the life of a stranger reminds us that supporting our “oneness” changes the world.
We stop the game, divert the flight, shut down the craps table, and focus on the life so full of hope and promise; like the life of a boy suddenly lost in a place as unexpected as the school gym. We are forced to look at our ultimate question: When, where, and how will I die?
Instinctively, we don’t care in that moment of crisis about any conflicts that may have tied us in emotional knots just a few heartbeats ago. There are no Bills or Bengals, no flight is really ever too late, no jackpot makes us a winner. All that really matters is our heart-to-heart connection.
Death ends one human’s suffering and leaves a hole in the hearts of loved ones. We have learned from thousands of lives saved like Hamlin that when we come together for the sake of another, we can reboot more than just one quivering, short-circuiting heart. It’s possible to end the suffering that we create for ourselves right here and now.
Bob Davis is a former Board Member of the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation.