High community response to learning CPR following Damar Hamlin’s cardiac arrest

BUFFALO, NY (WKBW) — With so many watching the terrifying cardiac arrest of Buffalo Bill Damar Hamlin, many Western New Yorkers are now interested in learning CPR. 

“This is going to be trauma that’s going to live with them forever,” noted Annette Adamczak.

Annette Adamczak lost her daughter to cardiac arrest.

The devastating moment of Hamlin’s cardiac arrest was all too familiar for Adamczak.

She watched as her own daughter, 14-year-old Emily Rose, an Akron High School freshman, suffered a sudden cardiac arrest in June of 2009 while playing soccer. 

Emily Rose Adamczak died in 2009.

“What went through your mind when you heard what happened to Damar?” Buckley asked.  

“It didn’t look anything out of the ordinary, but when he stood up and immediately fell down — I remember sitting at the kitchen table watching the game and saying — ‘oh my God — he’s having a sudden cardiac arrest’. You feel as a mom — you feel like your heart is being ripped right out of your chest all over again,” replied Adamczak. 

Emily Rose Adamczak died of cardiac arrest in 2009.

Adamczak says they didn’t know why her daughter collapsed and no one performed CPR. 

“But instead I watched my daughter take her last breath,” recalled Adamczak. 

Adamczak told me she turned her grief into making sure students and teachers are trained in CPR, even if it is hands-only. 

Akron School District.

The Akron Central School District was even recognized by the American Heart Association as the “First CPR Smart School in Western New York.” 

“If one person learns how to do hands-only CPR and you’re at the right place at the right time, you can make difference and the life you save may be your own loved one,” Adamczak remarked. “I don’t ever want another family member or another community member to have to go through this with their family.”

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Student learning Hands-Only CPR.

But Adamczak’s effort is even bigger — by 2015 the New York State Board of Regents agreed to require hands-only CPR training for high school students.  

In West Seneca, the awareness of Hamlin’s terrifying moment on Monday Night Football is causing a chain reaction within our community to learn CPR. 

The Winchester Fire Company says the request for full CPR training is exploding. 

“It was really kind of shock and awe — a reminder that you know and medical emergency can happen at any time, anywhere. It doesn’t matter who you are young, old, healthy, anything,” explained Troy Eberle, fire chief. 

The Winchester Volunteer Fire Company says because of the high demand for CPR training — they’re going to add multiple classes. 

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Troy Eberle, Winchester fire chief, West Seneca.

Chief Eberle expected about ten people to sign up for a class later this month, instead, about 400 requests came in.   

“We are a small department. We didn’t expect nearly the amount of people that we’ve got,” Eberle said. 

“A lot of them are multiple people that want to take it at once. Families that want to take it corporations reaching out to see if they can hold a class with them,” Jason Jurek responded, volunteer firefighter. 

Jason Jurek responded, volunteer firefighter. 

Jurek will be teaching CPR for Winchester and says he will do his best to accommodate all the requests.

“The more people that know CPR, the more lives we can save,” commented Jurek.

“Did you ever expect that response?” Buckley questioned. “No, no, not at all. We were expecting maybe ten people to reach out and this is just it’s been awesome,” Jurek declared. “I went to bed with like 30 emails and I woke up at 7 o’clock and 400 it’s been nuts.”