The quick thinking of Christopher Demski, a staff member at the H-F Racquet & Fitness Club in Homewood, saved the life of a patron on Jan. 4.
Demski was honored Feb. 7 by the Homewood-Flossmoor Park Board for his immediate and heroic efforts in assisting the man and using CPR skills to revive him.
About 1:30 p.m. Jan. 4 Demski was at the fitness desk when a club member rushed over saying someone had passed out at the treadmill machine.
“I just flew over there and immediately went to him on the ground, and he was kind of twisted in the machine,” Demski recalled. “I got him on his back and started talking to him and he wasn’t responding.” The man started turning blue. Demski immediately started CPR.
“The first time was 20 compressions. He came back maybe a second and he stopped breathing again, so I started compressions again, 21 compressions and he came back for maybe a minute. The third time I did 24 compressions and he came back. This time he moved his eyes.”
CPR training says to talk to the person in distress, but Demski said he didn’t get any response, “so I said let me crack a joke and he actually chuckled.”
Staff brought towels to raise the man’s head. Demski said the patron wanted to get up, but he told him to lay calmly. When the paramedics arrived, Demski said he stepped aside.
Demski, a member of the maintenance staff at the club, will soon complete 11 years with the Homewood-Flossmoor Park District. All staff go through CPR training. Demski completed his course two years ago, but he said it all came back to him in that instant on Jan. 4.
“I could picture the dummy in the training session as I’m looking at him. That’s how I went by it to bring him back. That class actually is a life changing thing, it really is,” Demski said. “I think everyone should do (a CPR class). Something that important should be taught constantly.”
The timing was important, too.
“Maybe God was there that day,” he said. “If he was on the street by himself, he’d have never survived. So, I’m glad he was (at the club).”
During the park board meeting when Demski was honored, a letter was read from the man’s family thanking Demski for all he did.
“Not everyone would have the courage and strength to step up in a position like that,” the letter read. “What you did, Chris, is nothing less than what a real live hero would do. Words cannot express how grateful we are that you were by his side and had the wherewithal to react and be present for (him).”
The family shared that the club member underwent surgery recently and is recuperating.