An athletic trainer is being called a “hero” for rushing to Damar Hamlin’s aid after the Buffalo Bills safety collapsed during a game earlier this week.
Denny Kellington, assistant athletic trainer for the Buffalo Bills, jumped into action immediately after Hamlin suffered a cardiac arrest during the first quarter of “Monday Night Football” on Jan. 2, according to Buffalo Bills head coach Sean McDermott.
“For an assistant to find himself at that position and needing to take the action that he did and step up and take charge like he did … is nothing short of amazing,” McDermott said in a recent press conference, which was shared by the NFL on Twitter.
“The courage that that took … talk about a real leader, a real hero, in saving Damar’s life, and I just admire his strength,” McDermott said.
He also praised the entire Bills medical team for their speedy response.
“Our medical team, they go through mock exercises for things like this, but we are never around to see that when they do that,” he said. “As they say, practice pays off, and it did in this case.”
During a press conference on Jan. 5 hosted by University of Cincinnati Health, where Hamlin is hospitalized, Dr. William Knight IV, who's been treating Hamlin, also praised the immediate action after Hamlin collapsed.
“We cannot credit their team enough,” he said, noting that Hamlin lost his pulse, prompting “immediate bystander CPR, which ... rarely ever happens." Hamlin's heartbeat was restored after a defibrillator was used on him on the field.
"There are injuries occasionally that happen on sports fields, be it in football or others, but it is incredibly rare to have something be this serious (and) that quickly recognized," Knight said. "Meeting the standard of what we would expect in that scenario is what has allowed us to be able to discuss these good outcomes today."
One of Hamlin's other doctors, Dr. Timothy Pritts of University of Cincinnati Health, also said at the Jan. 5 press conference that, had Hamlin's care on the field been delayed by minutes or even seconds, his prognosis could've quite different.
Praise for Kellington has been pouring in on social media.
NFL player Robert Griffin III shared what a photo of Kellington on Twitter, calling the assistant coach a “real life hero.”
Several fans also called for Kellington to be formally honored by the NFL.
“The Football Hall of Fame needs to make a place for heroes like #DennyKellington and the entire medical team,” one person tweeted. “Football is more than the superstar players. It’s everyone who makes a substantial contribution to the sport.”
“His name should be put up on the bills wall of fame…a true hero,” another person wrote.
Hamlin, 24, has been hospitalized since his cardiac arrest, which occurred after he made a tackle against a Cincinnati Bengals player during Monday’s game.
The Buffalo Bills have been sharing periodic updates on Hamlin’s condition, writing in a Jan. 6 tweet, “Per the physicians at UCMC, Damar’s breathing tube was removed overnight” and that “he continues to progress remarkably in his recovery.”
The tweet continued, “His neurologic function remains intact and he has been able to talk to his family and care team.”