INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — When Joe Humasti started his security shift at the Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe in Incline Village on Aug. 19, he had no idea he would end up saving someone’s life.
Humasti, who is also a longtime Incline High School golf and alpine ski coach, used his knowledge of CPR to help save the life of a retired middle school principal from Chicago who was staying in the hotel.
Around 3 p.m. the woman wasn’t feeling well, so paramedics were called to the hotel. After a series of tests, it was advised she go to the hospital, but she refused treatment, saying that she felt better.
“She just didn’t look that well,” Humasti said. “She was a little pale, so I just had a gut feeling that I should go up and check on her.”
When Humasti went to check on the woman in her room minutes later, the woman’s daughter opened the door and told him, “My mother is not feeling very well. Please, help her. Please, help her,” he said.
The woman was on a bed, lying face down, having just gone into cardiac arrest.
“My instincts just took over,” Humasti said. “It (CPR) comes back just like a reflex, the reflex takes over your emotions and you’re just in a different zone.”
Humasti rolled her over and asked her if she was OK. There was no response, so he directed for 911 to be called and immediately started CPR by administering breaths and compressions.
Since 1972, Humasti has been trained in CPR. According to Mark Zimmerman, assistant principal for Incline High School, all coaches are required by the Washoe County School District to be trained in CPR.
Humasti’s part-time job at the Hyatt also requires him to be trained as a first responder.
Humasti gave the woman CPR for three or four minutes before Brad Cople, one of Humasti’s co-workers, came onto the scene with an automated external defibrillator (AED).
The AED was used for an additional three or four minutes before paramedics arrived. The woman was then flown to a Reno hospital by Care Flight helicopter. She has since returned to Chicago and is doing well.
The paramedics told Humasti his actions in those first few minutes had a huge impact on the outcome of situation.
“As a coach, no one person takes the credit of anything,” Humasti said, in response to being asked if considers himself a hero. “The real heroes are the communicators, the first responders, the second responders, everybody helping together. It was a team effort.”
Both Humasti and Zimmerman stressed the importance of knowing CPR.
“You never know when you’re going to need it,” Zimmerman said.
This past Saturday, Humasti renewed his CPR certification, and he said the woman’s daughter now plans on taking a CPR class.
“The more prepared we are, the more prepared we are to help each other,” Humasti said.