A variety of terms are used to describe executive protection professionals, including advisors, facilitators, coordinators, and special assistants, to name a few. Educators should also be included on that list. Generally, principals do not fully appreciate or are willing to accept comprehensive security plans in order to ensure their own safety. To provide effective security services, security professionals must educate their clients on the rationale behind their recommendations. Without educating our clients and ensuring their “buy-in” for a protection program, we are fighting a losing battle. The responsibility lies with us to explain it in a manner that is understandable and engaging to them.
Consider, for example, the events that occurred during Monday Night Football on January 2, 2023. At home, many watched as a seemingly innocuous tackle turned into a life-or-death situation. Buffalo Bills player Damar Hamlin collapsed to the ground due to sudden cardiac arrest following a clean hit. A sudden cardiac arrest occurs when electrical disturbances stop the heart from beating properly.
The condition differs from a heart attack in which blood ceases to flow to the heart because of a blockage of a coronary artery. Although the specific details of the incident are unknown, it has been speculated that the blow to Hamlin’s chest – along with its precise timing – may have caused ventricular fibrillation, a “chaotic” heart rhythm that interferes with blood flow to the brain.
It is possible that if the trauma occurred between heartbeats, then it may have caused a specific type of ventricular fibrillation known as commotio cordis – a disruption of the heart rhythm caused by a blow to the area directly above the heart. Commotio cordis is a phenomenon in which a sudden blunt impact to the chest causes sudden death in the absence of cardiac damage. Resuscitation within three minutes has been documented to result in a survival rate of 25%. When resuscitation was prolonged beyond three minutes, the survival rate is documented to have dropped to 3%.
As a result of having the appropriate assets in place, Hamlin was able to survive. This was the first time that an NFL player had received CPR on the field; however, the NFL made sure that properly trained personnel were on hand to handle any emergency.
It is imperative that the risk matrix be managed holistically, and in order to achieve this, adequate assets must be in place before an incident occurs. Dealing with a serious incident at the time, without prior planning, is a recipe for disaster.
Risks in the highly likely category, which are almost certain to occur, such as ankle sprains and muscle strains, are negligible, and trainers are on hand to treat these injuries. Risks that are highly unlikely or improbable are exactly as the name suggests, with a probability of occurrence of less than ten percent; however, they may be catastrophic, such as cardiac arrest during an NFL game being broadcast nationally.
Despite this, properly trained personnel were still in place and ready to respond, giving the player a six-fold greater chance of surviving.
“The Football Correlation” can be used to explain to clients why it is important to have assets in place to manage all aspects of risk. The incident serves as a fine example of probability, possibility, and plausibility, which illustrates the need for security professionals to prepare for all possibilities, regardless of how unlikely they may seem.