The assistant athletic trainer who performed live-saving CPR measures on Damar Hamlin in January 2nd’s Bengals-Bills game is being called a “hero” by everyone in the organization and larger sports community.
Denny Kellington leapt into action following Hamlin’s sudden collapse early in the first quarter of the now-canceled NFL contest. Hamlin was injured making a tackle against wideout Tee Higgns. He stood up following the completion of the play but within a few seconds fell backwards at the onset of his cardiac ar**st.
“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,” Bills coach Sean McDermott said during a press conference in reaction to Kellington’s heroic efforts to save the second-year wideout.
“The courage that that took … talk about a real leader, a real hero, in saving Damar’s life, and I just admire his strength,” he added.
.@BuffaloBills HC Sean McDermott praises assistant athletic trainer Denny Kellington who provided immediate care to Damar Hamlin on the field.
"You talk about a real leader, a real hero, in saving Damar's life." ❤️💙 pic.twitter.com/HuGyPBhm5g
— NFL (@NFL) January 5, 2023
The coach continued heaping praise on everyone involved in providing immediate and life-saving care to the injured Bills player.
“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.”
One of the doctors treating Hamlin at a Cincinnati hospital, Dr. William Knight IV, seconded the head coach’s assessment of the prompt medical response Hamlin received on the field.
“We cannot credit their team enough,” he said, adding that Hamlin had lost his pulse in the aftermath of his episode, which itself prompted “immediate bystander CPR, which … rarely ever happens.”
Today.com notes that “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 continued. “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.”
Denny Kellington a REAL LIFE HERO. He performed CPR on Damar Hamlin on the field and was crucial in saving his life. pic.twitter.com/FHpng0bPOD
— Robert Griffin III (@RGIII) January 5, 2023
Praise has come from not just medical professionals but social media as well.
“The Football Hall of Fame needs to make a place for heroes like #DennyKellington and the entire medical team,” one user 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 user wrote.
The American Tribune previously wrote that Hamlin has been hospitalized since the January 2nd game, and continues to recover from his injury. Since the game, there has been no shortage of controversy surrounding both the game’s initial suspension as well as rampant speculation as to the cause of the cardiac ar**st Hamlin suffered.
A week ago on January 2nd, Hamlin was critically injured after making a tackle against Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver early in the first quarter. Hamlin briefly stood up before suddenly falling backwards.
He was given CPR on the field before being transported to a nearby hospital’s Level 1 trauma center. Hamlin was listed in critical condition, and remains so, although doctors have said his neurological functions are intact and his lungs appear to be working normally.
Hamlin’s injury has prompted widespread conversation on all sorts of topics, ranging from the NFL’s decision to first postpone and then ultimately cancel the Bengals-Bills game as well as lead to controversial comments surrounding the nature of his cardiac ar**st.