Be prepared with CPR training

Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin; photo copyright Jaster Athletes/Shane McFarland.

Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin, who was revived with CPR after suffering cardiac arrest during a game this fall. Photo copyright Jaster Athletes/Shane McFarland.


Published March 29, 2023


Western New Yorkers understand how the quick actions of bystanders can make the difference between life and death. In January, Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin suffered cardiac arrest on the field. In February, Jessica Pegula shared that her mother, Buffalo Bills and Sabres co-owner Kim Pegula, had suffered cardiac arrest last summer. The lives of Hamlin and Pegula were both saved by witnesses who quickly performed CPR — cardiovascular pulmonary resuscitation.

Following these high-profile stories, many Western New Yorkers are interested in learning more about CPR — and how to use it in an emergency. The experts at UB’s Clinical and Translational Science Institute are here to help.

Why Is CPR important?

CPR is used when the heart unexpectedly stops beating. According to the American Heart Association (AHA), more than 400,000 Americans die every year from cardiac arrests, with more than 350,000 cardiac arrests occurring outside the hospital. CPR given immediately and correctly can double or triple the chances a person will survive. Surprisingly, only 40% of people who have a cardiac arrest outside of the hospital are given the proper immediate care necessary before professional medical help can arrive. Therefore, it is important that we become better prepared to provide CPR in emergencies.

What do experts recommend?

If you see a person collapse, the AHA recommends calling 911 and, if you have received training, performing CPR by pushing hard and fast in the center of the chest. CPR works by using chest compressions to help keep oxygen-rich blood flowing to the brain and other organs until medical help can arrive. The AHA recommends giving 100 to 120 chest compressions a minute to a musical tune such as “Stayin’ Alive” by the Bee Gees, “Crazy in Love” by Beyonce, or “Hips Don’t Lie” by Shakira.

In an emergency, time is critical. Anne B. Curtis, SUNY Distinguished Professor, Department of Medicine, Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, recently told The Washington Post about how quickly CPR should be administered to an unresponsive person. “What we say in medicine is you’ve got four minutes,” said Curtis. “If you can start effective CPR within four minutes of a patient going down, you can have a very good neurological outcome.” Therefore, effective CPR is essential to preserving normal brain function. Curtis offers additional guidance on chest compression in a UB YouTube video.

Who should receive CPR training?

Simply put — everyone. It is important to learn CPR so you can be prepared in an emergency. From teachers to medical professionals, coaches to caregivers, and law enforcement to firefighters, we can all benefit from knowing the basic skills needed to save a life.

The AHA trains more than 22 million people worldwide in CPR every year. UB Recreation offers CPR, AED and first aid training to members of the UB community and the general public on campus. You can also join Damar Hamlin’s AHA “#3forHeart CPR Challenge” or register for other CPR courses offered in person or virtually throughout the year. And you can visit your local Buffalo and Erie County Public Library for access to free CPR training kits.