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Sue Prezzano’s Holiday Prep Tip: Take a CPR Class!

Career nurse and NDP EMS Certified Instructor Coordinator Sue Prezzano has an important public service announcement for everyone who is now preparing for holiday fun:

“Register for a CPR class!”

The Hudson Valley local, who raised four children of her own and is now grandmother to 12, believes that family celebrations are only complete when those gathered have taken the time beforehand to learn lifesaving skills.

And thanks to the dedication of Sue and her team at NDP EMS, you can acquire those skills right at our headquarters (3 Hook Road, Rhinebeck, NY). CPR classes, she said, are offered a couple of times every month, and it only takes about 4-5 hours to get certified.

We caught up with Sue to learn more about her passion for healthcare, emergency medicine, and CPR certification. Here’s more:

Tell us about your professional background.

I am a nurse by trade and have worked in emergency settings for more than 50 years! I always knew I would do something along those lines. As a kid, I would travel all over with my dad during his shifts as a police officer. He often took me into emergency rooms, where he would sit me on a chair and tell me not to move. I would watch as everyone scurried around to help people in need, and was always in awe. There’s no question those early experiences inspired me to pursue the career I did.

I worked as a nurse at St. Francis Hospital (now Westchester Medical Center) for many years, primarily in the trauma center (which I helped develop in 1991). I was also a flight nurse with the State Police. Rewarding, but stressful!

In 2005, Ed Murray (NDP’s Founder/CEO and my longtime friend) encouraged me to come to NDP. I actually taught Ed at DCC when he was getting his own certification as a Paramedic! So, I decided to go for it. I worked in Quality Assurance, then as Director of Education, followed by some time as Director of Human Resources. I left for a couple of years to work at Cold Spring Elementary School in Pine Plains, and had a great time working with 4-6 year-olds. But it became too much, and Ed welcomed me back to NDP, this time as CIC (Certified Instructor Coordinator). In this role, I train future EMTs and Paramedics, and sign off on all of their certifications. It’s a great position for me - and I just love NDP.

What do you most love about your work?

The people. I just love the people! I love teaching others what I have learned over the years. I feel I have a lot to offer. As an example, I’m currently monitoring the EMT class up at Bard, and I so enjoy working with the students - they are like sponges! They want to know everything they possibly can about the medical field, and I love sharing my experience and then watching them grow and learn. It is very gratifying to know that when they start working in the community and making a difference, I will have played a part in that. It’s just amazing.

Can you comment on why it is so important for people to take CPR classes, regardless of whether or not they work in healthcare?

The ultimate gifts (not just during the holidays but all year long) are good health and time with people we love. If you have a family member who begins choking or has a cardiac event at your table or out at a restaurant, you want to be able to jump in and help save that person’s life while you’re waiting for EMS to arrive. It happens more than you think; it is easy for someone to begin choking when laughing and having a great time, and naturally you have people gathered who represent various age groups, there may be a few with heart conditions. Why not get prepared for the possibility that something can happen? There’s a far greater chance of survival if someone at that table has the skills needed to help. And if you are that person, for the rest of your life it will resonate with you, deep in your heart and soul, that you were the one who took the time to gain those skills - you were the one who made the difference. The class can be done in 4-5 hours on just one day; it is so worth it.

Is the NDP EMS CPR course available to anyone? We offer American Heart Association CPR twice each month as a general class, which is open to the public. In addition, we teach the course at schools (children as young as 5th grade can learn!), dental practices, medical offices, hospitals, and community organizations.

The class is just a one-day commitment - and not even a full day! Everyone gets a chance to practice rescue breathing and compressions, and we offer recertification every two years. There is constant research going on about what works best, and some of the curriculum gets modified accordingly - so if it has been a while since you have taken a class, sign up! There is so much more to it than what you see on TV and in the movies (in fact, much of what you see is NOT the correct way to administer CPR - so do NOT count on Hollywood to teach you what we should all know how to do. Come learn the right way at NDP EMS!)

To register for an upcoming CPR class, call or email Cheryl Hilbrandt, EMT, Training & Education at NDP EMS: 845.876.0448 X136 or email:

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