Local cardiac arrest survivor optimistic Bills safety Damar Hamlin will recover

J.R. Bourne collapsed, suffered cardiac arrest while playing soccer on Jacksonville Beach

As medical teams frantically worked on Hamlin in the first quarter, like millions of others, J.R. Bourne watched in horror.

JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. – The Buffalo Bills said Wednesday afternoon that Damar Hamlin remained in critical condition but has displayed “signs of improvement.”

The team released a statement saying the 24-year-old safety was in intensive care.

Hamlin has been in critical condition since he collapsed after a hit Monday night in Cincinnati while playing the Bengals. His family members said he went into cardiac arrest and had to be resuscitated twice.

As medical teams frantically worked on Hamlin in the first quarter, like millions of others, J.R. Bourne watched in horror.

“It definitely brings things back and just brings back to perspective of what’s important in life,” Bourne said.

In 2015, Bourne was in a similar position. He was 40 at the time.

“I was just kicking the soccer ball with a friend on the beach, in Jax Beach, and, you know, went down. It, kind of, just felt blurry and went down,” he told News4JAX. “And next thing I knew I was, you know, being resuscitated on the beach.”

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His heart stopped, but thankfully, Jacksonville Beach Ocean Rescue lifeguards were nearby in a truck, arriving within 2 minutes, doing CPR and using an automated external defibrillator, or AED.

“I wouldn’t be here today [without them]. I completely understand that and live with that every day,” he said. “You know, my fortune was just, it was meant to be.”

Hamlin was surrounded by a team of top medical experts: doctors and paramedics with an ambulance and AED on hand. Bourne said that’s why he stresses the importance of everyone knowing CPR and how to use an AED.

“You can never say enough thank yous to people who were just doing their job in their mind,” he said. “But, you know, I’m here because of it, so truly blessed.”

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Bourne said today he feels healthy and is optimistic that Hamlin will recover just like he did.

“The outpouring of people in the community and the world is great, and, you know, just keep having a positive outlook, and, you know, pull through because he’s a strong young kid, athletic, healthy, like, you know, and he’s probably in the best care possible,” Bourne said.

Bourne is praying Hamlin is as fortunate as he was to get back to living a healthy life.

About the Author:

Lifetime Jacksonville resident anchors the 8 and 9 a.m. weekday newscasts and is part of the News4Jax I-Team.