Hamlin's foundation, NFL donating $100K worth of AEDs to Nevada schools

Thirteen months after Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin suffered cardiac arrest during a game vs. the Cincinnati Bengals, the impact of the events of that night and Hamlin's work off the field are continuing to grow.

On Friday afternoon in Las Vegas, the Smart Heart Sports Coalition, represented by the NFL, the American Heart Association and Hamlin's Chasing M's Foundation, announced that Chasing M's is donating $100,000 worth of automatic external defibrillators (AEDs) to all Nevada Title I high schools with athletic programs -- 47 schools that receive need-based federal funding.

"We made a commitment, obviously, in the aftermath of the situation with Damar last year, to take what we know at the NFL level, in terms of our emergency action plans and our medical preparedness, for eventualities and share those throughout all of football and all of sports," Jeff Miller, NFL executive vice president of communications, public affairs and policy, told ESPN. "When we make a commitment like that, we need to follow through on it.

"... The goal here ... is to get the laws passed in all of the states and ensure that kids are being protected to the greatest degree possible from sudden cardiac arrest, and if we can use the Super Bowl as a platform to advance those advocacy efforts, then that's a sensible thing."

In March 2023, the NFL launched the Smart Heart Sports Coalition, a collaboration that has expanded to 37 members, including sports and medical organizations, to advocate for policies in all states to prevent fatal outcomes from sudden cardiac arrest among high school athletes. The coalition advocates for three best practices: mandated athletic emergency action plans that are widely distributed, posted, rehearsed, and updated annually; AEDs at each athletic venue or within one to three minutes; and CPR and AED education for all high school coaches.

"We believe at the American Heart Association, that everyone everywhere deserves an opportunity to have people around them that know CPR," American Heart Association CEO Nancy Brown told ESPN.

Since the coalition's work began, five states (New Mexico, Kentucky, Indiana, Louisiana, California) have adopted one or more of the policies. Eleven states have all three in place and 10 states have none.

Currently, the state of Nevada is missing two of those policies: emergency action plans and accessibility. Miller said that the attention from discussing this during the Super Bowl "is certainly going to advance the likelihood that we'll be able to get the legislation passed."

In addition to the AED donations, the coalition is announcing it is working on a program to provide an AED bundle at a discount to high schools nationally. The coalition plans to work with the Nevada Department of Education and the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association -- with officials from the organizations present for the event.

The American Heart Association is also offering hands-only CPR training at the Super Bowl Experience.

"The Damar effect has been real," as Brown said, and the American Heart Association saw about a 620% increase in CPR training interest in the week after Hamlin's cardiac arrest. Chasing M's Foundation also launched a CPR Tour that began taking place last summer and into the fall, with CPR and AED education brought to a few cities and AEDs donated to local youth teams.

"You can't respect it enough that somebody as young as Damar is able to focus his attention and his platform in a way that's gonna benefit others is really impressive to behold," Miller told ESPN. "... Getting an AED into every high school in America is a daunting proposition. There are financial challenges.

"... Damar's ability to contribute all of these AEDs ... is a huge example of the impact that he's having, but we also have to be able to scale it, and so that's gonna take a little bit of time and effort and a lot of thoughtfulness from a lot of people to make that happen."