After Damar Hamlin Collapsed, This Employee May Have Saved His Life

Denny Kellington is said to have taken critical action
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 6, 2023 1:38 AM CST
After Damar Hamlin Collapsed, This Employee May Have Saved His Life
An ambulance leaves the field with Buffalo Bills' Damar Hamlin during the first half of an NFL football game between the Bills and the Cincinnati Bengals, Monday, Jan. 2, 2023, in Cincinnati.   (AP Photo/Joshua A. Bickel)

After Damar Hamlin collapsed on the field Monday night, an assistant athletic trainer for the Buffalo Bills rushed to his side: Denny Kellington, who quickly got to work performing CPR and is now being hailed as a "hero." Writes sports journalist Albert Breer in a tweet cited by SBNation and other media outlets, "I was told the work of Bills assistant athletic trainer Denny Kellington in administering CPR to Damar Hamlin on Monday was absolutely vital. The speed and skill with which he and others reacted = A huge difference-maker." Others have credited Kellington with saving Hamlin's life.

Bills' coach Sean McDermott said, per Sports Illustrated, "Just like anything else, our medical team goes through their mock exercises for things like that. ... Practice pays off and it did in this case. ... The context of it, for an assistant to find himself at that position and needing to take the action that he did and step up, take charge like he did, and there were others on the field as well, was nothing short of amazing." And, from Bills offensive lineman Dion Dawkins: "Denny Kellington let’s praise this name and person for reviving Our Brother Damar on the field. Denny gave CPR and chest compressions to get his Heart Back Beating."

Indeed, at a UCMC press conference regarding Hamlin, a doctor credited the Bills' staff with quickly recognizing how serious the situation was and getting Hamlin CPR and defibrillation as fast as possible, which made a critical difference in the outcome. As Hamlin experienced a remarkable improvement (his first question was whether the Bills won the game), the Cincinnati Bengals receiver he'd tackled before he collapsed, Tee Higgins, says he's doing OK, and that knowing Hamlin is improving "makes me feel better inside," CNN reports. (More Damar Hamlin stories.)

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