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Ferndale woman teaching CPR to as many as possible through mobile class

By: Joshua Gordon | Woodward Talk | Published July 31, 2013

 Amanda Zimmerman, a Ferndale-based paramedic, runs Save 1 CPR where she teaches bystanders the proper techniques for CPR, the Heimlich maneuver and other various first-aid situations. Zimmerman said it is important for CPR to be performed on patients in cardiac arrest even before the paramedics arrive.

Amanda Zimmerman, a Ferndale-based paramedic, runs Save 1 CPR where she teaches bystanders the proper techniques for CPR, the Heimlich maneuver and other various first-aid situations. Zimmerman said it is important for CPR to be performed on patients in cardiac arrest even before the paramedics arrive.

Photo by Deb Jacques

FERNDALE — Whenever Amanda Zimmerman has to respond to a medical emergency, the first thing the doctors ask the paramedic when she brings in a patient is if CPR was performed before the paramedics arrived.

Zimmerman, who works for HealthLink Emergency Medical Transportation in Taylor, said a majority of the time, people are too afraid or uninformed to perform CPR before the paramedics arrive, which means the patient may not be breathing for several minutes before they get on site.

So, in her free time, Zimmerman, a Ferndale resident, has set up Save 1 CPR, a mobile CPR training class that helps teach proper techniques for CPR and the Heimlich maneuver, as well as provides helpful tips and information for anyone who may find himself or herself in a situation to save someone.

“Standard CPR is so important when it comes to cardiac arrest, and so many people don’t know that, so my goal is to teach as many bystanders CPR as possible,” Zimmerman, 34, said. “Each minute a patient is suffering from cardiac arrest and CPR is not being done, there is a 10 percent less chance of survival for them. If you call EMS, it may take 10 minutes for us to get there, so each minute CPR is not being done, that person is not being revived.”

Zimmerman has 10 adult and 10 infant mannequins she can set up at her house for classes or take on the road with her for some bigger instructional periods. She also packs a defibrillator and a first-aid bag to teach people about gauze wraps, bandages and how to control bleeding.

Each person who takes part in the class also receives a bag at the end with first-aid reference guides, marketing products and a CPR keychain mask in case they encounter a situation on the go.

Not only is teaching people who are new to CPR important, Zimmerman said, but also important is making sure others are properly informed on techniques and ways to best use their precious minutes while trying to revive someone.

“Probably the biggest misconception is that people think giving breaths is the biggest part, but compressions are actually the most important part,” Zimmerman said. “A lot of people are afraid to jump in if they don’t know the person because they don’t want to put their mouth on the person. I teach a hands-only CPR, as well, so hopefully more people will jump in and help out.”

Even during the hands-only technique, Zimmerman said she wants to make sure people are doing the correct methods to have the best chance at success.

“When you are doing the compressions, the most important part is that you are doing a certain rate and a certain depth,” she said. “What you are doing is mimicking a heartbeat, and if you are doing it too shallow or too slow, you are basically not helping and could be blocking the blood flow.

“It is really important to learn compressions, and in class, I break down the nuts and bolts of CPR and go over the compressions and how to do ventilations.”

One of Zimmerman’s main goals with her business is to help out groups who could really benefit from CPR training and donate classes to ensure that happens. This year, Zimmerman trained 23 staff members at the Boys & Girls Club of South Oakland County.

Liza Billotti, the Boys & Girls Club senior vice president of operations, said Zimmerman donating the classes was a great way for the club to see people give back in the community.

“Amanda was professional and very sweet and we haven’t had anyone offer to donate services in five years,” Billotti said. “It is great to be in a community where we service kids and families, and other organizations are willing to step up and provide for us. It is exciting to see others in the community are willing to make sure what needs to happen is happening.”

Zimmerman said the only cost the Boys & Girls Club had to pay was the $5 for the CPR certification cards. When working with kids, it is important to know all the safety measures, Billotti said, and Zimmerman helped provide that.

“This was a huge deal for us because that would be a big expense to get our staff trained and it is incredibly important for the safety of our club members that we are CPR certified,” Billotti said. “We service anywhere between 400 and 450 kids a day in our sites and you would imagine every once in a while there would be an emergency. With the first-aid training and CPR, we feel ready and equipped to handle the situations that come about because our job is to make sure the kids are safe.”

All of Zimmerman’s classes are taught by herself and another health care professional, Tiffany Steadman. She is looking to bring on a few more professionals soon.

Zimmerman also provides classes for kids so they can be prepared to call 911 in case of an emergency, or even perform the hands-only CPR in rare situations. Ultimately, Zimmerman said she just wants to make sure people are prepared.

“I try to make sure I add in real-life situations, and most people appreciate that because they can see how these methods can really help,” she said. “Seeing someone in cardiac arrest is even scary to us paramedics, so as a bystander, it can be really scary, but CPR being done is actually very crucial.”

For more information on Save 1 CPR, visit or Save 1 CPR on Facebook.