NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) — No one will soon forget the shocking collapse of Buffalo Bills player Damar Hamlin in January, or Bronny James going down on the basketball court in July. While cardiac arrest in young athletes is rare, it is still their leading cause of death.

“You just get hit in the wrong spot at the wrong time, an athlete goes down,” said Heritage High School Athletic Trainer Ticynn London.

London told WAVY that the scariest of moments happened at Heritage High in Newport News during a wrestling match there last year.

Woodside High School Athletic Director Paul Macklin was there and described what happened when the student hit the mat.

“He went into distress,” Macklin said. “He was unconscious, but with the great work of our athletic trainer at the time at Denbigh High School, he came and rescued using the AED.”

When used within minutes of a cardiac emergency, AEDs increase the rate of survival to 70%.

John LaRue, director of Sports Physical Therapy at Riverside Health System, showed us one of the devices and explained how easy they are to use.

“It actually walks you, as the user, through the CPR process and in real time will instruct you,
if you’re doing it well, if you’re not doing it well,” LaRue said, “and will let you know when its going to provide a shock if it feels its necessary.”

Riverside ordered 22 AEDs, two for Todd Stadium and one for each high school and middle school in Newport News, Isle of Wight County and York County.

“We hope these are never used,” LaRue said, “but in the event that they are that there is that layer of safety that our certified athletic trainers and emergency personnel can use.”

The AEDs will be on practice fields and at games, bringing peace of mind, London said, in the event a player or anyone else goes down.

“You’re that much closer to saving someone’s life,” he said.