Buffalo Bills’ Hamlin attends CPR training with Panthers

CHARLOTTE — The Carolina Panthers, the American Heart Association, and Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin came together in an effort to help save lives.

Hamlin had to be resuscitated on the field in January after he went into cardiac arrest during a game. He’s now on a mission to encourage more people to learn CPR, among other life-saving skills.

“It’s an unexpected life mission for me but I’m all in,” Hamlin said Monday at the Panthers indoor practice field.

“I always grew up wanting to be a football player, wanting to make it to the NFL,” he continued. “This situation has just brought a bigger life purpose for me.”

Panthers co-owner Nicole Tepper had the idea to facilitate the training, but quickly gained Hamlin’s support when the two met at the Super Bowl.  Monday, dozens of Panthers players, staff and PSL owners met in the Atrium Health Dome to receive CPR instruction, proper use of an AED with some leaving CPR-certified.

“For him to come here and support this idea, it was everything,” Nicole Tepper said.

She and her husband, David Tepper, are also close friends with Buffalo Bills co-owner Kim Pegula. Like Hamlin, Pegula also suffered a cardiac arrest in the last year.

“The Bills connection, with Damar and with Kim, it was incredible,” Tepper said. “For us to be able to honor them and honor this cause and give this back, is what we love to do.”

Among the handful of players who participated was Panthers punter Johnny Hekker, also a father to young children.

“It definitely puts me at ease,” Hekker said.

“Before, if something were to happen, a cardiac event while I was around, I’m not certain I would’ve had the same confidence to jump in and act in that moment,” he said. “As we’ve learned here today, the seconds are vital.”

According to the American Heart Association, out of 360, 000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests each year, currently fewer than 90% of people survive, or one person out of 10.

(WATCH BELOW: New program offers CPR training to Burke County students)

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