University employee honored with a lifesaving award

University employee honored with a lifesaving award

By Amanda M. Perez

University employee honored with a lifesaving award

By Amanda M. Perez
The American Red Cross recognized a University of Miami Patti and Allan Herbert Wellness Center employee whose quick-thinking actions helped save a man’s life.

Zachary Bemmel was finishing his shift at the University of Miami Patti and Allan Herbert Wellness Center when the unexpected happened.

“As I was walking through the racquetball courts in the facility, I saw a man collapse to the ground. When I ran to help him, I noticed that he was quickly losing a pulse and had stopped breathing,” recounted Bemmel, program coordinator at the Herbert Wellness Center.

With a certification in CPR, Bemmel knew exactly what to do. 

“With the help of my colleague, I continually administered CPR and used an AED device that sent electric shocks which helped show signs of life again. It was at that moment the paramedics arrived at the scene,” he explained. 

Bemmel’s quick thinking led him to receive a Red Cross Lifesaving Award. Since 1911, the awards have been bestowed on those who, in an emergency, used their lifesaving skills or knowledge to save or sustain a life. Bemmel was given the American Red Cross Certificate of Merit, the highest award given by the organization.

“The fact that I was able to help save this person’s life was an honor in and of itself. So, I was shocked and thankful to have been nominated for this award by one of my co-workers,” Bemmel remarked. 

Connie Nickel, associate director of wellness and recreation, was that person who felt inclined to submit his nomination.

“I was so impressed with what Zac did. He was just walking by the courts when he put his training to work and saved a man’s life. It was reported to me that he did so in a cool and calm way. The Wellness Center staff are all trained in CPR/AED, but Zac took that training and made a difference in this man and his family’s life–incredible!” said Nickel.

Bemmel, who has been certified in CPR for 8 years, said the award is a reminder for him to stay refreshed on what to do in certain situations.

“It’s just a constant reminder that I need to be on top of my training because you never know when something like this can happen. It’s important for me to always be ready and on top of my game,” he said.

He hopes to soon teach a course at the University that will help others get certified.

“I’ve been working on getting a class together to teach the UM community including faculty, staff, and students about CPR. It’s a great opportunity for everyone to get involved and learn about these important techniques, because life is strange and you never know what situation you will come across,” said Bemmel.

He has advice for those who find themselves in a similar situation in the future.

“Definitely trust your training and frequently go over everything you’ve been taught. It’s important to always stay calm, because it’s very easy to let your emotions get the best of you and take away from your training,” he explained.

 “We are proud to honor Zac for his heroic actions. We hope that his story will inspire others to learn these lifesaving skills,” said Deborah Koch, executive director for the Red Cross. “We need more heroes in the community who are trained and ready to act. This is an invitation for others to become certified and help us keep the community safe.”