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Marple paramedic applauds EMS efforts in saving Buffalo Bills Damar Hamlin, urges learning CPR

Aug 07, 2023

MARPLE — Like millions of Americans Andrew Tucker was watching the Buffalo Bills – Cincinnati Bengals game on Monday Night Football when Bills defensive player Damar Hamlin suffered cardiac arrest after a tackle.

Watching the television coverage Tucker was conflicted as commentators didn't know how to speak to the events as the minutes passed, his reaction was prayers for Hamlin and respect for the EMS crews in action saving a life.

"That EMS crew did their job… even sitting on the 50 yard line on ESPN of a national football game," he said. They were able to block out a stadium of fans, upset teammates and the glare of a national television audience to do their job.

Tucker is a paramedic and Deputy Chief of Marple Township EMS as well as a contract paramedic who has covered hundreds of professional games including the Eagles, Flyers, Phillies and Sixers. He is also the Advanced Life Support Coordinator for Good Fellowship Ambulance in West Chester.

Tucker recalled being thrust into the spotlight in May of 2006 when he was working as a paramedic at the Phillies game. Center fielder Aaron Rowland made what some say is one of the most memorable catches in Phillies history, crashing face first into the center field fence at Citizens Bank Park.

After hitting the fence Rowland went down with a broken nose as teammates called for medical assistance.

Tucker said when something like that happens; everything is focused on the patient.

"Running from the dugout to center field, to go take care of him, everything gets blocked out," Tucker said. "And that is what that crew (Monday night) had to do and they did it well."

Tucker said in his experience the professional sports leagues such as the NFL and MLB give total support to EMS to help injured players. He recalled being on duty at an Green Bay- Eagles game when Brian Dawkins took out Bubba Franks. Tucker and his crew ended up transporting Franks to the hospital.

"It wasn't like, get him off the field…the EMS works very well with the training staff, in my experience, the trainers and doctors on those teams work very well with EMS," Tucker said.

Tucker said Hamlin's medical emergency also showed the importance of CPR to save a life.

"I said to my wife, as soon as it happened, this is going to put CPR on a pedestal, as it should have been for years, it's a heightened awareness of CPR," he said. "Early rescue reorganization, early defibrillation are key to success and that was absolutely evident Monday night."

The American Heart Association notes that each year in the United States, an estimated 350,000 people experience sudden cardiac arrest and anyone who witnesses a cardiac arrest in the community can perform CPR.

CPR can help keep the heart pumping and blood flowing to vital organs until an electrical shock from a defibrillator is available to restore the heart to a normal heart rhythm.

CPR, especially if performed immediately, can double or triple a cardiac arrest victim's chance of survival.

Tucker, who has been volunteering with Marple since 1988, urges residents to become trained in CPR. The Marple Township Ambulance Corps has trained students at Paxon Hollow Middle School and will be offering a free ‘Hands Only’ CPR Classes every other month for Township residents. These classes will be held at our station 8 N. Malin Road at 7p.m. The first class is scheduled for Wednesday, January 25th.

Registration is required. Please email Maria Tucker at [email protected]

This class is for anyone 16 years of age or older.

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