New York State In-depth

Buffalo Bills return to work after Damar Hamlin suffered cardiac arrest on the field


The Buffalo Bills held meetings and a walk-through Wednesday before their Week 18 game against the New England Patriots — less than two days after Bills player Damar Hamlin suffered cardiac arrest during a nationally televised game.

The 24-year-old safety has shown “signs of improvement” and remains in critical condition, the Bills tweeted Wednesday, as players, coaches and fans remain focused on his recovery ahead of the final weekend of the NFL regular season and the subsequent playoffs.

Emotions surrounding the return to the field were clear during a conference call Wednesday when NFL executive vice president of football operations Troy Vincent recalled watching video of the game in which Hamlin sustained more than 100 injuries would.

“For the healthcare professionals, first responders, doctors and trainers, the EMTs (the response) that night were outstanding. You gave our brother Damar another day to live, another chance to fight,” Vincent told reporters, his voice fading.

He added: “The only thing that mattered to me, the team here, the people in the stadium and the coaches was the health and well-being of Damar and getting those coaches back in the dressing room so they could face their players can look and see who they are. They hurt. There was a lot of pain. And talking to the commissioner and communicating with everyone, that was just important. We just couldn’t play.”

dr NFL chief medical officer Allen Sills said emergency response was critical that night.

“It is certainly no exaggeration to say that the skilled and prompt response of all these talented caregivers at this moment prevented a very tragic outcome,” said Sills.

The Bills will not have media availability Wednesday, the team said. New England also postponed scheduled media availability Wednesday, the Patriots said.

“The NFL has agreed to give both the Buffalo Bills and the New England Patriots an extra day due to these unique circumstances,” the Patriots said.

Bengals coach Zac Taylor recalled what Bills coach Sean McDermott said to him before the game was postponed Wednesday ahead of the first team meeting since Hamlin’s injury: “The first thing he said was, ‘I have to go to the hospital his demar. And I shouldn’t be coaching this game.’”

“In that moment, he really showed who he is — that he was just focused on Damar and he was there for him and he was there for his family in the hospital,” Taylor said of McDermott.

Taylor praised the team coaches, doctors and paramedics who tended to Hamlin on the field. “They were composed. It was obviously a complicated situation on the field that everyone was trying to process… I think it’s important to emphasize that they were prepared and gave Demar the best chance.”

Hamlin was sedated and put on a ventilator at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center Tuesday night, his uncle Dorrian Glenn told CNN. His collapse on the field ended the Bills Monday Night football game against the Cincinnati Bengals. The Bills tweeted that Hamlin’s “heartbeat has been restored on the field.”

The injury, which followed Hamlin’s tackle on a Bengals wide receiver, stunned a packed stadium and spectators across the country – and put the National Football League and its protection of its players to a new test.

Most NFL teams have Tuesday off, but some canceled limited availability that day following Hamlin’s injury. The rest of the league was supposed to get back to work on Wednesday in preparation for the final games of the regular season, though many NFL players’ social media accounts remain focused on Hamlin.

What led to the cardiac arrest is still unclear.

Hamlin is on a ventilator to relieve his damaged lungs, Glenn said. Doctors told Glenn his nephew was also “turned on his stomach” to help with the blood in his lungs.

Hamlin collapsed just after attacking Tee Higgins with about six minutes into the first quarter. Monday’s game has been postponed, with the Bengals leading 7-3, and will not resume this week, and no decision has been made on whether it will ever go ahead, the NFL said Tuesday.

The game has playoff ramifications: both teams have earned playoff spots but are battling for higher seeding spots in the American Football Conference. Securing first place means getting a week off while the other six AFC playoff teams compete.

The days following the injury have been marked by an outpouring of support for Hamlin and his family, with messages of prayer and well wishes from elite athletes, fans and national leaders.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said Tuesday in a memo to teams that all clubs’ player engagement directors and team physicians have received mental health information and support resources for players and staff.

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