Well-Being Prevention & Cures

‘Saved that woman’s life’: CPR instructor stops class to restart woman’s heart

During a training course, Karen Mayfield went from teaching CPR to administering it.

Story at a glance


  • CPR instructor Karen Mayfield was teaching a class in Tonawanda, New York Thursday when a man approached and said his neighbor needed help.

  •   Mayfield went next door and began performing CPR on a woman until paramedics arrived.

  • “It was wild, and it just, to me, is just a great example of why we take these classes,” said assemblyman Bill Conrad, who was attending the class.

TOWN OF TONAWANDA N.Y. (WIVB) – A CPR instructor in the Town of Tonawanda, New York, was in the right place at the right time on Thursday.

During a training course that night, Karen Mayfield went from teaching CPR to administering it, and saving someone’s life in the process.

“It was wild, and it just, to me, is just a great example of why we take these classes,” said assemblyman Bill Conrad, who was attending the class.

The training session was being held at Saint John the Baptist Church. Conrad said he noticed a man come to the class, watch part of it, and then leave.

About 20 minutes later, the man returned, according to Conrad. He said his neighbor was unresponsive, and he was hoping to find someone who knew how to perform CPR. That’s when Karen Mayfield ran out of the room and over to an apartment building next door.

“Someone made sure 911 was called, one of the parents was making sure of that,” said Conrad. “I kinda jolted over there to help, and then was in the apartment watching the compressions, holding the door open for the paramedics. It was crazy.”

Conrad added that earlier, Mayfield said she’d never needed to perform CPR on “an actual person before.” But she was more than capable, he observed.

“It prepared her and she did a fantastic job and saved that woman’s life. She’s alive today.”

Matthew DeRose, the Town of Tonawanda Police Department Paramedic Supervisor, also praised Mayfield’s quick action.

“Out-of-hospital cardiac arrest is a very difficult situation to begin with and survivability isn’t that high,” DeRose said. “Anything we can do to make that better, benefits the patient at the end of the day.”

DeRose said there’s also been rising interest in CPR training ever since Bills safety Damar Hamlin’s cardiac arrest.

“Having the knowledge and the skills helps to save lives,” DeRose said.

“She’s a hero to me, and to this woman,” Conrad said. “It just shows you how important these classes are, that literally we’re taking it, and it was spurred by what happened to Damar Hamlin, but it’s just amazing to see that it works and it’s real. It happened literally the same night as the training, and how crazy that is.”

Mayfield — the assistant director for CPR, Risk Management & Student Employee Development Recreation at the University of Buffalo — is a little shaken from the whole experience. But she did send a statement to Nexstar’s WIVB, stressing the importance of CPR training.

“I hope this story can serve as yet another reminder of how invaluable a familiarity with CPR can be, and that it inspires others to pursue the training,” Mayfield said. “I commend the efficiency and expertise of the town paramedics and police, who every day on the job endure the stress of critical events and emergencies.”