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Damar Hamlin’s cardiac arrest leads Mich. youth football team to train on CPR, AED

Twenty Norsemen football players and four coaches sat down in Bingham Township to become certified in CPR

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By James Cook
The Record-Eagle

SUTTONS BAY, Mich. — Lt. Josh Porter has done this quite a few times, but not quite like this.

The Bingham Township Fire & Rescue firefighter and paramedic does about three classes a month teaching methods for cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and automated external defibrillator (AED). He’s been with the department since 2006.

“Coaches, but never a whole team,” Porter said after finishing up the class. “A lot of teachers and staff come through.”

Twenty Norsemen football players and four coaches sat in a Bingham Township Fire Department a week before the season started for the class that took two hours and 15 minutes. Each received certification in CPR and AED use after completing the class.

“It’s good to learn this in case that ever happens,” junior running back and cornerback Jackson Loucks said. “Then you know these skills and can be able to help somebody. If I wasn’t on the football team, I probably wouldn’t have the opportunity to do something like this.”

In the class run by Porter, the players learned from detailed instruction in CPR and using an AED — and the difference in techniques for treating adults and children.

“I’m happy I learned all this because it’s super important,” junior running back and defensive back Luke Bramer said. “It’s just nice to know in case of emergency and if anything happens. I’m glad we did this so I have the skills and knowledge to know how to do this.”


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The Norsemen learned mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and how to use it in conjunction with CPR to aid a patient.

Suttons Bay head coach Garrick Opie said recent events such as last January’s collapse of Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin on the field from cardiac arrest spurred the decision to add the training to the team’s preseason work.

“It definitely puts a pit in your stomach to think that anything like that could ever happen,” Opie said. “The more people that that know CPR and how to use an AED, the better off the world can be, because you never know when you’re going to run into a situation like that.”

All Michigan High School Athletic Association varsity, junior varsity and freshmen head coaches are required to have valid current CPR certification.

“Every year as coaches we go through CPR training and rules meetings,” Opie said. “This should be part of the norm as far as teams are concerned.”

Having AEDs available throughout school buildings has become much more commonplace in recent years, and many teams even have a portable AED to take on the road.

Operating an AED is fairly simple, as the device typically talks the user through the steps to deliver an electric charge to the heart of a patient suffering from cardiac arrest, but Porter detailed how people administering CPR or AED assistance need to delegate tasks such as calling 911 and getting the AED while someone performs CPR.

CPR is much more involved, using varying techniques based on the patient’s responses, build and age.

“It’s probably one of the most important things we could do,” Opie said. “We’ve got a bunch of young men that we’re trying to make to be better human beings, not just football players. This is an important part of it when you can take responsibility for someone’s life and help somebody in need. It’s invaluable.”

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