Red Cross Ready — Karen’s Story

All it took was a bite of steak.

During a lunch meeting at a local location of Brann’s Steakhouse and Grille, our Instructor Trainer, Karen, had finished her salad and began cutting into her steak. As she took a bite and swallowed, she felt the steak lodge in her airway and realized, after many years of teaching CPR and other emergency breathing techniques as a Red Cross instructor, that she was choking.

This is Karen. Photo courtesy of the American Red Cross of Greater Grand Rapids.

She motioned to a nearby waitress named Jennie and put her hands on her throat, showing the universal sign that she was choking. Brann’s trains all of its staff through our Red Cross chapter and so Jennie was prepared to know what to do. Asking permission to help Karen and letting her know that she was trained, she proceeded to provide three abdominal thrusts and managed to dislodge the piece of steak on the third try.

“After so many years of teaching other people CPR and other emergency breathing techniques, I was hoping that I would find myself in the hands of someone who knows what she’s doing,” said Arndt. “It was a really scary moment, but she was wonderful.”

Like many local businesses, Brann’s trains all its staff in Red Cross lifesaving techniques through our Workplace Training program. The waitress that saved Arndt’s life mentioned that this was the fourth time that she helped customers who were choking (usually on steak, too — perhaps red meat IS as dangerous as people tell us!). Because of the preparedness of Brann’s and thousands of people in our community, lives are saved each day.

For more information on our workplace training program, please visit us online at or call (616) 456-8661.


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