The importance of early bystander CPR

By Candice Perez-Milline, Paramedic
ACLS Instructor

Photo by Raven Domingo on

Recently the world was exposed to the importance of early bystander CPR and how it can save lives. When NFL Player Damar Hamlin recently suffered Commotio cordis on the field and was saved by early bystander CPR and defibrillation. Commotio cordis occurs when someone is struck in there chest at a critical moment in the heart rhythm resulting in cardiac arrest and can lead to death if not treated with CPR and defibrillation. Conversely, we also have seen this in little league baseball as well.  This is a rare condition, and it shines light on the importance of knowing CPR. And that without the quick actions of the medical staff on scene. Mr. Hamlin would not be with us today. Our hearts and prayers go out to Hamlin and his family as they traverse this new chapter in life. Cause they have a lot of recovery to go before he can get back on the field and play.

In 2020 The American Heart Association issued new guidance that early CPR, high quality compressions, and application of Defibrillator can and will save lives. More than 350,000 cardiac arrests occur each year, immediate CPR can double a person’s chance of survival. Unfortunately less than half of bystanders will perform CPR, Every minute counts, survival rates without CPR decrease by 10% as each minute passes.

We have learned that tired people don’t do CPR effectively so you should take turns with other responders delivering high quality chest compressions at a rate of 100 to 120 compressions per minute. Push hard and fast. and call 911. Check out this video on hands only CPR by the American Heart Association

To schedule your next CPR class go to

Commotio cordis (Latin, “agitation or disruption of the heart”) is a rare lethal disruption of heart rhythm that occurs as a result of a blow to the area directly over the heart (the precordial region) at a critical time during the cycle of a heartbeat.[1] This leads to disrupting normal heart electrical activity, followed instantly by ventricular fibrillation, complete disorganization of the heart’s pumping function, and cardiac arrest. It is not caused by mechanical damage to the heart muscle or surrounding organs and is not the result of heart disease.
Its incidence in the United States is fewer than 20 cases per year, often occurring in boys participating in sports, most commonly in baseball when the hard ball strikes an unprotected chest.
Commotio cordis occurs upon impact within a narrow window of about 40 milliseconds in the cardiac electrical cycle, explaining why it is so rare.[1]
If cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) combined with use of an on-site automated external defibrillator is employed urgently, within three minutes of the impact, survival from commotio cordis can be as high as 58 percent.[2] Exert from Wikepedia


Basic Life Support: Provider Manual. American Heart Association, 2020. Comitto Cordis