LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – Damar Hamlin’s on-field collapse put a spotlight on sports safety, especially when it comes to children.

Around 60 million kids in the U.S. participate in organized sports and shockingly, cardiac arrest is the leading cause of death among young athletes.

When Damar Hamlin collapsed on Jan. 2, Heather O’Donnell said it confirmed her greatest fear, as her own son plays hockey.

“He could get hit in the wrong place. Something could happen,” O’Donnell said. “No sport is 100% safe.”

Dr. Korin Hudson is a MedStar health emergency physician and works with teams like the Washington Wizards and Capitals.

“[Cardiac arrest in athletes is] very rare, but we do know it may happen as frequently as once every five days,” said Dr. Hudson. “There are a lot of athletes in high school and collegiate sports in this country. But once every five days is probably more often than we think about.”

So, how can parents and coaches be prepared?

“The best way we can be prepared for this type of emergency is to have the training and have the equipment necessary to respond,” said Dr. Hudson.

That equipment includes an AED – an automated external defibrillator. If used within the first minute, chances of survival are close to 90%.

Dr. Hudson added that parents should:

  • know where the closest AED is
  • always have a way to call 911
  • ask your coaches if they know CPR
  • make sure your school or club has an emergency action plan

“You can learn how to use an AED in less than two minutes,” remarked Dr. Hudson. “Anybody can do these skills.”