CINCINNATI — The collapse and survival of NFL player Damar Hamlin during a game in Cincinnati is behind a new effort to help people during a heart attack.

Officers will now be equipped with AEDs to help before paramedics get there.

What You Need To Know

  • "Project Heart Restart" has been helping to get AED devices in buildings across the Hamilton County area 

  • After seeing what happened to Damar Hamlin on the field, crews teamed up with the Rotary Club to start raising money to help get AED machines in patrol cars 

  • So far, "Project Restart" has raised enough funding to get 100 AED machines in patrol cars 

Officers haven’t had to use the AED machines yet, but Charmaine McGuffey, the Hamilton County Sheriff, said they’re ready.

“This machine tells us exactly what to do once we apply these pads and someone’s in cardiac arrest,” said McGuffey. 

Each patrol car at the sheriff’s department is now equipped with AED machines. They’re machines that will shock the heart and could revive someone having a heart attack. It’s the first time Hamilton County officers had them in their patrol cars. 

“I have to tell you, it was cost prohibitive,” said McGuffey.

It would take an emergency on national TV last year to change that. 

“I was there on Jan. 2 when Demar Hamlin went down with cardiac arrest on Monday Night Football, and we witnessed firsthand how first responders, equipped with an AED, saved his life,” said Steve King with Project Heart Restart and the Rotary Club. 

King said it was that moment, and after meeting with the sheriff, when he said something else needed to be done and he had an idea. 

“The first phase raised $260,000 in about six weeks and phase two has raised $170,000. So $430,000 has been raised so far to equip all of our law enforcement and first responders across Hamilton County,” said King. 

That money paid for AED machines to be put in 100 patrol cars.

The Rotary Club teamed up with Christ Hospital for what’s called “Project Heart Restart” to make it happen.

Mark Johnston is the hospital’s emergency coordinator behind the effort. He said they’ve been putting AED machines in buildings for years, but with the additional funding, they’re adding patrol cars to the list.

“The AEDs are important because, one, you don’t really know when somebody is going to collapse. You don’t know where it’s going to happen. It’s called a sudden cardiac arrest for a reason,” said Johnston. 

Eventually, he said they hope to expand beyond Hamilton County, and get AEDs in officer’s cars across the region, but this is a start.

“We got it done and now our kids and our families are safer for it,” said Johnston. 

For more information or if you would like to help in the effort, click here.

Editor’s Note: A previous version of this article misspelled Sheriff Charmaine McGuffey’s name. This has been corrected. (June 24, 2024).