KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Joy Roberts was just like everyone else Monday night, watching medical staff performed CPR on Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin during a nationally televised football game.
The Bills later announced Hamlin suffered cardiac arrest during the Monday Night Football game against the Cincinnati Bengals. He remains in the intensive care unit.
“Time really is of the essence there and having someone who can keep the heart pumping,” said Roberts, who is the interim dean at the University of Missouri - Kansas City School of Nursing and Health Studies.
She would know. Before becoming interim dean, Roberts worked as a critical care nurse and nurse practitioner.
Her CPR skills were pressed into action outside a hospital in late 2019 at a University of Missouri event in Columbia. She says a man collapsed. In a room of about 75 to 100 people, only Roberts and one other person knew CPR.
“A number of people panicked and were screaming, not knowing what to do,” Roberts remembers fondly.
She and the other person performed CPR on the man until paramedics arrived about five minutes later. The man luckily survived.
UMKC requires nursing students and staff to learn CPR. Roberts has now expanded it, offering the training to students, faculty, and staff in other departments like dentistry and pharmacy. She encourages everyone to learn the skill.
“If there is any silver lining, it’s that it’s made people perhaps more aware of the need to be trained in CPR to be able to help when something happens out of the blue,” Roberts said.
The American Red Cross is one of several organizations which trains the public in CPR. It offers online and in-person sessions. The Kansas City Fire Department launched a training initiative in 2019. It will visit groups and workplaces within the city limits for free.