Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin captured the attention of the nation earlier this year when he went into cardiac arrest on the field during a prime-time NFL game.

Now, Hamlin is using his platform to try to increase access to potentially lifesaving medical aid.

“As I was growing up playing football, I don’t recall ever thinking about CPR or knowing where an AED was in my school or on the athletic field,” he said during a Wednesday press conference in Washington, D.C. “On Jan. 2, that all changed for me and my entire family. ... Thankfully, the medical team with the Buffalo Bills was prepared and they saved my life.”

Related
The heartwarming way NFL fans responded to Damar Hamlin’s injury

Hamlin, who has not yet announced whether he’ll be able to play next season, was speaking in support of the Access to AEDs legislation, which was introduced in Congress this week.

If passed, the bill would provide schools with “grants for the implementation of AED and CPR programs,” The Washington Post reported. AEDs, or automated external defibrillators, are used to shock the heart of someone experiencing cardiac arrest back into rhythm.

Schools could also use the grants to replace old equipment, screen student-athletes for heart problems and train students and/or staff members who will be present at athletic events to use automated external defibrillators, according to a press release from Rep. Brian Higgins, D-N.Y., who is one of the bill’s sponsors.

The Buffalo Bills players pray for teammate Damar Hamlin during the first half of an NFL football game against the Cincinnati Bengals, Monday, Jan. 2, 2023, in Cincinnati. | Jeff Dean, Associated Press

Hamlin said during Wednesday’s press conference that the bill could save hundreds, if not thousands, of lives.

“Sudden cardiac arrest happens to more than 7,000 kids under the age of 18 every year in our country — 7,000 kids every year,” he said, according to the Post. “The majority of the kids impacted are student-athletes, and research shows that one in every 300 youths has an undetected heart condition that puts them at risk. For schools that have AEDs, the survival rate for children from sudden cardiac arrest is seven times higher.”

He continued, “The Access to AEDs Act will help ensure that schools are just as prepared and trained to respond in a time of crisis as those on the sideline of an NFL game.”

While in Washington to promote the bill, Hamlin and his family had the chance to meet with President Joe Biden at the White House.

The president tweeted about their encounter on Thursday afternoon, praising the NFL player for what he’s done for the country.

“Damar Hamlin’s courage, resilience, and spirit inspired the American people. And what’s more: he turned recovery into action — and our country is better for it. It was my honor to have him and his family here today,” Biden said.