WHEELING, W.Va (WTRF) – The tragic accident during the Buffalo Bills game on Monday night has brought a lot of attention to automated external defibrillators (AEDs), a portable device which ultimately restored Damar Hamlin’s heartbeat.


An AED is used when a person is suffering from cardiac arrest and is the considered the best treatment for this life-threatening condition.

Wheeling Fire Department officials say these lifesaving devices should be in all public spaces, especially sporting events as situations where they are needed are unpredictable.


While CPR is important in cases of cardiac arrest, EMT Director for the city of Wheeling Fire Department Jason Milton says the AED is the “true lifesaver.”

“It is imperative that we have these {AEDs} at any type of sporting events. From your younger ages who are more susceptible to this type of catastrophic incident that he {Hamlin} suffered up through any type of high school level and professional and collegiate levels.”

Jason Milton, EMS Director, Wheeling Fire Department

Younger children and teens are more likely to suffer from an accident like Hamlin, according to Milton. While he did not want to speculate exactly what happened to Hamlin, he says all signs point to the condition of Commotio Cordis, which is caused by trauma to the chest resulting in additional waves of electricity passing through the heart muscle. The extra waves can throw a person’s normal heartbeat out of rhythm, which can be fatal if not treated.

Even though the condition is more prevalent among younger people, the possibility of the accident to occur is extremely rare.

“You have to sustain a blow to the chest at the right point in your cardiac cycle, which is one in million type scenario.”

Jason Milton, EMS Director, Wheeling Fire Department

Milton says while it is preferred a person have CPR and AED training, the machines are user friendly for those with no training.

All AEDs have verbal and visual commands showing how to operate the device. The first step is to expose the chest wall and apply the stickers on the patient’s bare skin where the pictures on the packaging indicate.

From there, follow the directions on the AED, which will advise you to shock or not to shock.
It is important not to touch the person while they are being shocked.