Colour, cut and save a life: all in a day’s work for this salon owner

One minute Katelyn Humphris was engaging in salon small talk over a half head of foils, the next she was performing life-saving CPR.

Miss Humphris, owner of Wodonga’s Concept Hair Design, was about five minutes into a 9.15am appointment, when a 76-year-old regular stopped breathing.

“My client was having her hair done, a half head of foils, and we were just chatting,” Miss Humphris said. 

The hairstylist said her client said she wasn’t feeling well, before losing consciousness. 

“She just mumbled something and her head dropped, I shook her but – nothing,” Miss Humphris said.

It must have been very horrific for her to think I was dead and she did an amazing job.

The 76-year-old woman

In an instant the 23-year-old found herself alone in a terrifying situation, but her quick actions, and the help of a neighbouring cafe employee and passerby has earned gratitude from the woman says she owes Miss Humphris her life. 

The 76-year-old, who spoke to the Border Mail, is at home, doing well.

She did not wish to be named but said everyone who helped her deserved infinite praise. 

“Katelyn was absolutely amazing and very brave, something like that can be very daunting,” said the client.

“In a hospital setting everything is so different, you’ve got the equipment and support – but here was this gorgeous young girl running her business who was so brave.

“It must have been very horrific for her to think I was dead and she did an amazing job.”

As soon as Miss Humphris realised her client was unresponsive and not breathing she ran next door to the Bean Tree Central Cafe where Natasha Butler was working and Tara Jaziorny was enjoying breakfast with her young son. 

“She just ran to the door and shouted she needed help and bolted,” Miss Bulter said.

“When we got here the lady was head down in the chair, not breathing, not responding.”

Miss Humphris had already called triple-0 and the three women started performing CPR. 

“I wasn’t thinking, there was no time to think, we were just listening and doing as the triple-0 lady said, hoping an ambulance would get here soon,” Miss Butler said.

Together the three women revived the client on the floor of the salon. 

When paramedics arrived, within six minutes of the triple-0 call, the woman was breathing on her own and had regained consciousness.

“I was quite relieved when she came to and was talking, when we ran in my brain went to the worst case scenario,” said Mrs Jaziorny, a former SES volunteer and hospital helper. 

Paramedics told Miss Humphris the heat had aggravated the woman’s existing low blood pressure, dilating her blood vessels and further decreasing her blood pressure to a possible deadly level.

Miss Humphris said she’s still shaken about the incident but managed to work until 8pm and keep all her appointments on Thursday.

“I messaged my last client for the day and said ‘bring wine’ and she did so I had a glass and then went home and had a bit of a cry,” she said. “I’m just so glad she’s okay, she’s a lovely woman, we’ve been in touch and she sent me flowers.”

Miss Humphris said without the amazing work and support of Miss Butler and Mrs Jaziorny, along with the triple-0 operator, she would have been lost. 

She was so flustered during the ordeal she kept saying they needed to remove the woman’s foils, even while reviving her. 

Miss Humphris said she was touched when a Wodonga paramedic returned to check on her later Thursday. 

The three women, who inadvertently became heroes, called for more people to be aware the heat can be deadly for older residents.

“Paramedics said what happened could have killed her in two minutes, so imagine if she was alone,” Miss Humphris said.

The trio called for people to check in on neighbours and take heat-related warnings and illnesses seriously, saying they weren’t aware how badly people could be affected.