Area schools on alert helping students process NFL player’s near death on national TV

Damar Hamlin suffered injury during Bengals-Bills game on Monday night.

Thousands of area school students were among the national TV audience of millions watching when Buffalo Bills player Damar Hamlin lost consciousness during Monday evening’s Bengals game.

And like everyone across America, they reacted emotionally at the horrific scene that saw the star player nearly die on the field while hardened NFL stars openly wept and prayed while on knees.

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Officials at some local schools, now back in session this week after winter holiday break, said they can see the impact on some students. Especially those who have experienced emotional trauma in their personal lives.

For some students, said Amanda Schur, a counselor at Fairfield High School, “it brings up a lot of feelings and then sometimes they don’t know how to process those feelings.”

Often with other personal emotional trauma, some students will share with Schur and other counselors or school staffers their concerns and questions.

Hamlin’s injuries, he remains in critical condition at University of Cincinnati Medical Center while the nation follows each medical update closely, have been widely talked about among students.

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For some “they don’t know why they are upset or why they are struggling” when dealing with being emotionally upset, whether it be an incident in their personal lives or watching a disturbing scene during a usually joyous NFL game telecast, said Schur.

The two-decade veteran school counselor said parents and guardians should be mindful of the impact of the televised scenes and the massive media coverage since and look for negative effects on school-age children.

“Just make sure you are open and honest and talking with them (children). If they were watching with you, it would be a good thing to check in with them and say ‘how are you doing and is there anything you want to talk about,’” she said.

“And make sure they have the correct information on how he (Hamlin) is doing and that they are not hearing crazy rumors or that kind of stuff.”

“Try to answer their questions and if they (parents) don’t know the answers, help them try to figure out the answers.,” Schur.

Gina Gentry-Fletcher, spokeswoman for the 10,000-student school system, said school staffers have also used the incident as a reminder to remain on high alert for potentially serious student injuries.

“The horrible circumstances of this incident cause us to reflect on our own emergency protocols for our students and staff. We are fortunate to have plans in place. Our partnership with Mercy Health provides us with highly skilled and trained medical personnel and certified athletic trainers,” said Gentry-Fletcher.

“This aligns with our priority to ensure the safety and well-being of our students, whether on the playing field, during extracurricular activities or in the classroom,” she said.

Fairfield Schools Athletic Director Aaron Blankenship said “it has obviously been a topic around the athletic office and amongst our programs.”

“Devastating events like Monday night remind us how thankful we are to have emergency plans in place and such a strong athletic training and sports medicine staff serving our student-athletes and community.”

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