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Seahawks Return To Work While Also Sending Support & Love To Damar Hamlin

Two days after Bills safety Damar Hamlin collapsed on the field due to a cardiac arrest incident, the Seahawks returned to work while also trying to process that situation.

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For the Seahawks, a typical Wednesday morning during football starts with a team meeting. The morning that kicked off their day this Wednesday, however, was anything but typical.

Before talking about this week's game against the Rams, Seahawks players and coaches had a meeting focused on a much bigger topic, what happened to Bills safety Damar Hamlin on Monday night, and how players are handling that news. At that meeting team physician Dr. Jon Drezner discussed with the team the type of protocols the Seahawks and other teams have in place, the type of preparedness that helped save Hamlin's life after he had a cardiac arrest during Monday's game against Cincinnati. 

Seahawks coach Pete Carroll met with players individually before the team meeting, and also addressed in the meeting the subject that, as he put it, "really set a real shockwave through all of the football world—followers and fans and family and loved ones alike. We're all trying to send as much support and love and whatever we can with the prayers and whatever we can with our considerations of how we can help out as an organization as individuals. We met this morning to talk about it so that we can see where the players were coming from. I got around to a bunch of guys before that meeting to try to just see what has taken place and where we were and all before addressing the group." 

Carroll noted that in dealing with a situation like this, it is important to recognize that not every player is going to process it the same.

"It was really important for us to recognize that everybody went through a first-time experience at the same time, and we responded and reacted as players and coaches and people really tied to the game," he said. "It was a dramatic moment in all of the trauma, and we also found that all of our families reacted too, and everybody immediately got phone calls and moms and dads and grandpas and aunts and uncles and loved ones and all of that, just trying to share the moment and see what just happened and what do we think and all that.

"Respecting the fact that people see it through their own eyes for the first time, and they have a response to it, we need to be there for them, and be available in every way that we can to make it to the next step that we take together. Fortunately, our organization and our clubs, we've got people that work with our players and help them address the issues and concerns, and coaches do the same because we care—it's like treating your kids, how would you treat your kid? You talk to them about it and try to work them through it. And make sure that we really emphasize that people don't hold it back and don't try to avoid it and bury it somewhere any more than how they can handle it, and the way we would like to talk about stuff and get through it. So that's the mode that we're in."

No two players will react exactly the same to news as shocking as what happened to Hamlin, though the two that held press conferences on Wednesday, receiver DK Metcalf and safety Quandre Diggs both indicated that while Hamlin's well-being is very much on their minds, they won't change their approach to the game this week. 

"It does make you think about your family members a little bit more," said Diggs. "When you are stepping on that field, you start thinking. Heck, if I am being honest, if you see that on Sunday, you're like, 'That could have been the last time I talked to my mom, right before the game.' The stress that is put on them, I think that's the way I look at it. It won't change my approach because you know the risks that you take when you play this game, but you never expect something like that. I got a wake-up call last year, so for me, I never take it for granted. My injury wasn't nearly as bad as his was, and that woke me up and made me understand. I call my mom before every home game and talk to her just to have that peace of mind. I hug my daughter super closely and hug my fiancé before I leave just in case. I left the house last year with two legs and came back with one. It just kind of changes things, so when you see stuff like that, it definitely makes you think about it differently. We just want to continue to pray for him and hopefully he has a full recovery and gets a clean slate of health because that's what it is all about. It's not about him getting back on the field or things like that, it's about a clean slate of health and his family. Those are the most important people and then, of course, his teammates because I know those guys are definitely still in shock. That kind of leaves you traumatized a little bit, so prayers up for everybody. We just hope that he makes a speedy recovery."

Added Metcalf, "My heart just goes out to his family and friends and teammates that had to go watch that and deal with it firsthand. We know what we signed up for every time we go out there and put on our helmet and step on the field. It's just a risk that we all live with."

In addition to addressing the team, Dr. Drezner also talked to the media about what the Seahawks and other NFL teams do to be prepared for medical emergencies.

"There's lots of preparation that all of the teams throughout the NFL take," Drezner said. "I've been really impressed with the emergency action plans that are required by the league. As a team, this is something that we prepare for, and we plan for. No one wants an emergency to happen on the field. There's a variety of different on-field emergencies that can occur, and sudden cardiac arrest is one of them that we do prepare for, and we hope never happens. Every team in the league is required to have a written emergency action plan. Every team in the league is required to practice and rehearse their response to an on-field emergency, which includes different scenarios."

Drezner also noted that this incident is a good reminder that events like sudden cardiac arrest can happen to athletes at any level and that people involved in youth and high school sports need to be prepare, both in terms of having equipment like automated external defibrillators, which was used on Hamlin on the field Monday, and in terms of people involved in sports knowing how to recognize problems and act accordingly.

"Sudden cardiac arrest can still happen at any level," Drezner said. "They can still happen in youth, in school sports, and out in the community with less resources. Even though there's less resources, survival is still possible. You need to recognize SCA (sudden cardiac arrest) and have defibrillators available. If you are able to recognize SCA and you have defibrillators in our schools, survival rates can be quite high. So, this is not a unique circumstance to the NFL or to the Seahawks to be prepared. I think being prepared is a responsibility of all the communities that sponsor organized sports.

"Schools have to be prepared. They have to have AEDs. If you're wondering if your school is prepared, if your school has AEDs, if your children play sports, go look for the defibrillators. Go ask your school. Talk to them about how you can help. It's not just having the devices available. They have to be accessible at the time of an emergency and you have to have people who recognize that there is a cardiac arrest and when to use it. That circles back to training emergency planning, and not just in healthcare professionals, but coaches who are responsible for our kids who are playing sports."

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