Merritt Island group stresses EKG screenings after Hamlin collapse

Who We Play For encourages taking steps against cardiac arrest

MERRITT ISLAND, Fla. – A local organization is stressing the importance of EKG screenings to prevent cardiac arrest or death in light of Buffalo Bills’ safety Damar Hamlin’s collapse on Monday.

Shawn Sima is the impact director for Who We Play For, a local organization aimed at raising awareness of sudden cardiac deaths. Sima’s daughter, Lexi, survived her own sudden cardiac arrest at 16 years old.

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He said he was overwhelmed after seeing Hamlin collapse on the field due to a sudden cardiac arrest.

“It’s amazing,” Sima said. “He doesn’t know it yet... just how lucky he is, and, you know, how blessed he is to be alive.”

Doctors said it’s too soon to determine whether Hamlin’s collapse was the result of a detectable heart condition. But Sima and other members of Who We Play For — like Stacy Cartechine, whose 21-year-old son died from sudden cardiac arrest — are encouraging people to still get screened in light of Hamlin’s collapse.

“No matter what caused it, whether it was something underlying or whether it was to do with the hit, the response with the CPR, AED right away and the step prior to that would be getting that (EKG),” Cartechine said.

Who We Play For will hold a heart screening event on Saturday, Jan. 7 at the Merrit Island Fitness Club from 8 a.m. - 12 p.m. For more information on how to sign up, click here.

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Emily joined WKMG-TV in November 2022.