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American Heart Association: Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin's collapse sparks interest in CPR training

AHA: Damar Hamlin's collapse sparks interest in CPR training
AHA: Damar Hamlin's collapse sparks interest in CPR training 02:04

GARDEN CITY, N.Y. -- The American Heart Association says interest in saving lives has spiked since Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin suffered cardiac arrest on the field.

CBS2's Jennifer McLogan attended a CPR training course in Nassau County, where she learned responding immediately can triple the chances of survival.

Seventeen-year-old PJ Kellachan collapsed on the basketball court at Chaminade High School just before Christmas after going into cardiac arrest.

"I'm very grateful for having such a great training and coaching staff that was able to spring into action," PJ said at the time.

His coaches knew CPR and grabbed the AED -- automated external defibrillator -- that restored PJ's heartbeat, just as Hamlin's life was saved on the football field.

READ MORE: Chaminade High School coaches honored for saving 17-year-old who collapsed on basketball court

"I cannot stress enough how important time is. Every second counts. Quite literally, every second counts," Nassau Health Commissioner Dr. Irina Gelman said.

Cardiopulmonary resuscitation and AED courses are underway inside Nassau's executive building.

The AHA and medical staff there are emphasizing how important it is to know what to do and how to help in an emergency.

"If an EMT isn't around and you see somebody collapse ... Jump in and try to save that person," Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman said.

Over 20 years ago, the Acomporas lost their 14-year-old son, Louis, a goalie on Northport's lacrosse team, when a ball struck his chest.

"What if there was an AED on the field? Would he be alive? Yes," Louis' mom, Karen Acompora, said.

The ambulance with an AED arrived too late to save him. They made it their mission back in 2000 to pass Louis' Law.

READ MORE: Following son's death on lacrosse field, Long Island family has made sure AEDs are in schools and on sidelines

Now, AEDs are mandatory on fields and in schools across New York state.

Since then, Long Island firehouses and EMT volunteers are spreading the word.

In the coming weeks, Nassau police medics will offer free CPR-AED classes to all county employees.

"It's hard work. It's like, you are really saving a life. I feel the energy. I'm sweating. But I'm glad to have this training so I can be able to help somebody," Nassau County employee Simona Ross said.

The best feeling in the world.

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