YouFit Hero Saves Gym Member’s Life

Hands doing CPR on a man

A routine day at the Lantana YouFit Gym took a terrifying turn recently when a member collapsed, unconscious, in the restroom. He was all alone and had stopped breathing when another member found him on the floor.

Luckily, Regional Operations Director Suha Yatek was there. She sprang into action, relying on her recent CPR training to save the young man’s life.

Suha was generous enough to talk with us in depth about her experience that day. Here is her story, as told to YouFit’s in-house interviewer, Jacob Clifton.

Clifton: Can you describe the moment you realized something was wrong? What did you see first? 

Suha Yatek: The first thing that happened was that I heard one of our gym members screaming out for help in the bathroom — he’d discovered another member, lying unconscious.

Clifton: What went through your mind as you realized what was happening? Were you scared?

Suha: I just kept thinking, time is critical for helping this member. And I thought about how young he was, and how much pain he must be in… I was scared for sure! I could see him turning more and more purple, all across his body. But I live by the message that it’s always the right time to do the right thing.

YouFit gym staff, including Regional Director Suha Yatak

Clifton: You’re CPR-certified, thank goodness. Did your training kick in immediately?

Suha: Yes. In fact, I got certified because I never wanted the burden of being unprepared. I registered for a live in-person CPR training just a few months ago! As a leader, I never want to be unprepared to help the team or gym members here at YouFit.

Moment of Truth

Clifton: That’s admirable. Now, walk me step-by-step through what you did in those crucial moments.

Suha: Our gym member, Jacob, was lying facedown. I was able to flip him over and check his breath and heart rate, which both seemed to have stopped. He was very heavy, and everyone else was too shocked to offer me any help with him. I started chest compressions and tilted his head back as a 911 operator counted out the rhythm of the beat. 

I administered CPR for what seemed like forever, but was really only a few minutes. Finally, I heard a loud gasp — and Jacob started to breathe again. I was relieved, but I knew we weren’t in the clear. Giving and receiving CPR are physically exhausting, especially with a grown, muscular man. He had very likely sustained trauma. So I had that in mind, as well.

Words to the Wise

Clifton: How important is it for gym staff to be prepared for these situations? Did you feel adequately prepared? Have your ideas about these subjects changed since your experience?

Suha: It’s so critical — for not just gym staff, but all individuals, to be prepared to help someone in this very vulnerable position. In my CPR class there were health professionals, grandmas, trainers, all kinds of people. All we had in common was a desire to be prepared to help.

The only way to be proactive is through education and training. I never really thought about whether I’d ever even have to use my training. I frequently ponder what could have happened to this young man if I didn’t intervene.

Clifton: Did anyone else witness the event, or help you? How did others in the gym react and assist you?

Suha: …Everyone played a role. I didn’t want more employees to be traumatized by the sight of this dying man, so I asked Kiara and Michelle at the YouFit Lantana front desk to call 911 and show the paramedics into the club. General Manager Christina brought me the AED (defibrillator) and repeated each of the 911 operator’s commands to me.

Clifton: How did the member react, was he conscious? Have you been in touch with him?

Suha: Jacob was unconscious the whole time, and was transported to the hospital. We reached out to check up on him, but haven’t heard back yet.

The Aftermath

Clifton: How did the incident affect you emotionally — both in that moment and after?

Suha: In the moment, I just felt intense pressure to do the right thing and remain calm for my team members. Even with training, this young man dying in front of us was traumatizing in the extreme.

Breathing is such a common occurrence, but when he started breathing again it was such a relief — like my first time ever seeing someone breathe. 

It was a high pressure situation, but my senior director Sam Park came to make sure we all had mental health help available, which I admire so much.

Clifton: Was this something anyone with training could do? Or was it a real challenge?

Suha: I feel, with education and training, anyone in my shoes would have done the same thing.

Suha’s dedication to preparedness, swift action, and unwavering composure under immense pressure are remarkable. Her story is a great reminder to seek out emergency training for ourselves. As Suha showed at YouFit that day, CPR is a vital life skill and we’re never prepared for when we might have to use it. So stay safe out there — and let’s watch out for each other!

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