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Meet the 'real hero' who saved Damar Hamlin's life: Oklahoma-born assistant trainer Denny Kellington

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Meet the 'real hero' who saved Damar Hamlin's life: Oklahoma-born assistant trainer Denny Kellington

Many people have been praised for their handling of Monday night’s traumatic events after Damar Hamlin suffered cardiac arrest on the field – but none more so than Denny Kellington, whose quick reaction saved the life of safety.

Hamlin went down after hitting Bengals receiver Tee Higgins in the first quarter prompting medical staff to move quickly.

Brain injuries can occur quickly in patients suffering cardiac arrest with tissue beginning to die within minutes of being deprived of oxygen and Kellington’s quick reaction in giving Hamlin CPR proved to be a matter of life or death.

Assistant trainer Denny Kellington administered life-saving CPR to Bills safety Damar Hamlin

Assistant trainer Denny Kellington administered life-saving CPR to Bills safety Damar Hamlin

Hamlin collapsed on the field in Cincinnati after being tackled by Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins

Hamlin collapsed on the field in Cincinnati after being tackled by Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins

Hamlin is awake and showing signs of improvement after suffering a cardiac arrest

Hamlin is awake and showing signs of improvement after suffering a cardiac arrest

After word spread that Hamlin was showing signs of improvement and communicating with his teammates, people began searching for the man who immediately began performing life-saving CPR.

That man is Kellington, an Oklahoma State University graduate who has been with the Bills for five years after spending more than a decade as the head athletic trainer at Syracuse University.

Hamlin went into cardiac arrest during the race in Cincinnati. Doctors say Hamlin initially had a pulse at the stadium and then lost it. That’s when Kellington quickly restarted his heart and restored blood flow to his brain as players from both teams and millions of television viewers looked on in shock.

Doctors treating Hamlin at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center said the prompt recognition that something was significantly wrong and the quick response by Kellington and others were crucial to his survival.

‘The Bills training staff with him immediately recognized that this was not a run of the mill injury and that they had a significant event on their hands and responded immediately,’ said Dr. Timothy Pritts to reporters on Thursday.

‘It went as well as something like this can go under very challenging circumstances. They did a great job, that’s why we’re here today.’

Despite the positive news, doctors said Hamlin, 24, was still seriously ill and remained in the intensive care unit, adding that the focus was on getting him off a ventilator ‘and on the road to recovery. .’

Kellington began his career in athletic training with a degree from Oklahoma State University

Kellington began his career in athletic training with a degree from Oklahoma State University

After stints at Amsterdam, Denver, and Ohio State, Kellington spent a decade at Syracuse

After stints at Amsterdam, Denver, and Ohio State, Kellington spent a decade at Syracuse

So, who is Kellington? After earning his Bachelor’s degree at Oklahoma State as a member of the training staff on the Cowboys’ football team as an intern between 1996 and 1999.

From there, he interned with the Denver Broncos as an athletic training intern

After earning his degree in 2002, he went overseas to become an assistant athletic trainer for the Amsterdam Admirals of NFL Europe.

She returned to Ohio State after one season in Holland and worked with the field hockey and women’s lacrosse teams while earning her Masters degree

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Following his time there, he settled in central New York as the head athletic trainer of the Syracuse Orange football team.

He remained in that post for more than a decade before deciding to move two hours west to his current position with the Bills in 2017.

If not for Kellington's CPR on the field, things could have been worse for Hamlin

If not for Kellington’s CPR on the field, things could have been worse for Hamlin

It’s with the Bills that Kellington does his job – one he’s been trained to do his whole life.

Despite the preparation, Bills head coach Sean McDermott still said Kellington’s actions were ‘amazing’.

‘For an assistant to find himself in that position and have to take the action that he did … is nothing short of amazing,’ McDermott told reporters.

‘You are talking about a true leader, a true hero in saving Damar’s life. I admire her strength.’

Bills quarterback Josh Allen echoed McDermott’s feelings about the training staff and Kellington, who has been with the Bills for nearly six years.

“I want to thank our training staff for going there, not knowing what was going on but going through a checklist … and saving his life,” an emotional Allen said.

Bills head coach Sean McDermott called Kellington and the training staff 'true heroes'

Bills head coach Sean McDermott called Kellington and the training staff ‘true heroes’

Bills quarterback Josh Allen thanked the training staff for saving his teammate's life

Bills quarterback Josh Allen thanked the training staff for saving his teammate’s life

Allen added that Thursday’s news that Hamlin was awake and talking to medical staff led to “a lot of tears of joy” after tears of pain rolled down the players’ faces on Monday.

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And it is for his training, knowledge and prompt action that NFL fans are calling for Kellington to be properly honored.

Supporters are calling for Kellington and the rest of the Bills training staff to be prominently enshrined in Canton, Ohio at the Pro Football Hall of Fame for their life-saving actions in Cincinnati.

Whether or not Kellington is given a gold jacket is up to the league and the selection committee. But for now, the training staff and the Bills themselves will receive a standing ovation in their final home game of the season this Sunday.

If that jacket isn’t in his future, Kellington will be remembered for what he did on that field: saving the life of a young man who needed help, and being the man to provide it for him while the rest of the field watched. of the world. and prayed for the best possible outcome.

The heroics of Kellington and the Bills staff led some online to call for him to be honored in Canton

The heroics of Kellington and the Bills staff led some online to call for him to be honored in Canton