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A timeline of the NFL’s response after Damar Hamlin collapsed

<i>Jeff Dean/AP</i><br/>Hamlin is examined after collapsing on the field in the first quarter of Monday night's game between the Buffalo Bills and Cincinnati Bengals.
Jeff Dean/AP
Hamlin is examined after collapsing on the field in the first quarter of Monday night's game between the Buffalo Bills and Cincinnati Bengals.

By David Close and Ray Sanchez, CNN

Minutes into Monday night’s nationally televised NFL game, Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin took a shot to the head and chest area while making a tackle following a completed pass.

Hamlin, 24, quickly bounced on his feet, took a couple of steps and fell backward in a shocking moment during what was considered an important late-season game with the Cincinnati Bengals.

Hamlin was in critical condition Tuesday after going into cardiac arrest and having his heartbeat restored by medical staff on the field. Some players wept or knelt in prayer nearby as millions of viewers tuned in on ESPN’s “Monday Night Football.”

Play was suspended for more than an hour before National Football League officials announced the game’s postponement.

Here is a timeline of the league response:

The play

It was 8:55 on Monday night, with the 11-4 Bengals leading 7-3 and both teams vying for top conference seeding in the upcoming playoffs. Cincinnati wide receiver Tee Higgins caught a 13-yard pass in Bengals territory and ran a few yards near midfield. Hamlin was waiting.

Higgins lowered his right shoulder and rammed into Hamlin’s head and chest area at full throttle.

Hamlin, arms out to make the tackle, wrapped his arms around Higgins’ shoulders and neck and twisted Higgins to the ground with him.

Hamlin got up and appeared to adjust his face mask. He then fell backward. A referee whistled for the clock to stop with 5:58 left in the quarter. Bills staff rushed to assist the motionless player.

Emergency action plan activated

Troy Vincent, the NFL’s executive vice president for football operations, told reporters late Monday that an emergency action plan was activated.

The league has said that every club is required to have an emergency action plan for instances of severe trauma. The plan — which is reviewed by league and player union officials and approved by outside experts before the season — requires the designation of a level one trauma center along with the presence of two certified paramedic crews and advanced life support ambulances.

“There is an emergency action plan in each and every one of our stadiums that’s rehearsed every year,” said Vincent, who played in the league for more than a decade.

“There is an airway management physician at every stadium should there be a need to help with airway management for an individual.”

Hamlin ‘promptly resuscitated’ on the field

Hamlin’s collapse left players from both teams distraught. Some were in tears. Other knelt with arms around one another before returning to their locker rooms.

Within 10 seconds of Hamlin’s collapse, Bills team trainers and physicians were treating him. An ambulance was on the field in less than five minutes, according to game footage. He was given CPR before being taken to the hospital, according to an ESPN broadcast.

Hamlin was soon intubated.

“Damar experienced cardiac arrest and was promptly resuscitated by on-site club physicians and independent medical personnel, all of whom are highly trained in implementing the plans for medical emergencies,” NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said Tuesday in a memo to all the teams.

“Damar was stabilized and transported to the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, a Level One trauma center, where he remains in the ICU.”

Hamlin’s mother, who was at the game, rode in the ambulance with him, according to Jordon Rooney, a friend and marketing representative of the player.

Bills players and staff gathered in a circle, kneeling on the field in prayer as an ambulance drove off with Hamlin about 9:25 p.m.

Hamlin’s family expressed its “sincere gratitude for the love and support shown to Damar during this challenging time” in a statement released by Rooney on Tuesday. The statement thanked the Bills, the Bengals, fans and medical personnel.

‘How do you resume play after … such a traumatic event’

By 9:16 p.m. on Monday, after the head coaches huddled on the field with game officials, Bills coach Sean McDermott motioned for his team to get back to their locker room.

The crowd was told the game would be temporarily suspended and cheers erupted from the stands as players retreated to the tunnel.

“I’ve never seen anything like it since I’ve been playing,” Vincent told reporters. “So, immediately, my player hat went on. How do you resume play after you’ve seen such a traumatic event occur in front of you in real time?”

It was just after 10 p.m. that the league, through the ESPN broadcast, announced the game was postponed.

Vincent said he and league officials were in constant contact with head referee Shawn Smith, who was in touch with the head coaches. Vincent said there no discussion about having the players warm up to resume play at some point.

“That’s not a place that … we should ever be in,” he said about resuming play after Hamlin’s collapse on Monday night.

Vincent added, “Neither coach frankly was talking about resuming play. The players weren’t… We just felt like collectively that it was time to communicate with the general public, those that were in a stadium, that we were going to postpone play.”

The NFL and the NFL Players Association jointly agreed that the game be postponed, according to the league.

“After speaking with both teams and NFLPA leadership, I decided to postpone last night’s game and have our focus remain on Damar and his family,” Goodell said in Tuesday’s memo to the teams.

Goodell said Monday’s game will not be resumed this week.

“No decision has been made regarding the possible resumption of the game at a later date and we have not announced any changes to this weekend’s schedule,” Goodell said.

The Bills tweeted on Tuesday that Hamlin “spent last night in the intensive care unit and remains there today in critical condition.”

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