The unemployed Seattle schoolteacher roped into saving lives outside a hotel in Haiti last week is finally starting his long journey home.

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The unemployed Seattle schoolteacher roped into saving lives outside a hotel in Haiti last week is finally starting his long journey home.

But the hours laid-off Madison Middle School teacher Jesse Hagopian spent setting bones and bandaging wounds outside the Villa Creole hotel near Port-au-Prince comforted more than just the injured.

Henry “J.H.” Bahn, the emergency medical technician who put Hagopian to work tending to earthquake victims in the hotel’s front drive, said the Seattle man’s grit inspired him to keep working through the devastation.

“In the middle of this tragedy he helped restore a little of my faith in humanity,” Bahn said Saturday night from his Maryland home. “It was just amazing to watch. It was heroic.”

Bahn, 63, an aid worker with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, had been in Haiti for a meeting and sprinted outside during the quake when the walls started cracking.

While none of the 100 or so people in the hotel were hurt, injured Haitians almost immediately poured in from around the region. There were broken arms and legs and internal injuries, gaping head wounds and skull fractures so serious Bahn could see brain matter. He suspects they saw at least 50 compound fractures.

Bahn took charge, urging guests like Hagopian, 31, his wife, Sarah Wilhelm, and others to shred bed linens and make tourniquets and wash dirt-caked lacerations.

“These folks had no experience with this kind of stuff, but they just dug in and did this incredibly difficult stuff,” Bahn said. “It’s so horrific and scary and frightening just to see, then suddenly you’re the guy cleaning the wound out? They steeled themselves.”

That first night, volunteers worked in the parking lot by the glow of headlights from a pair of Toyota Land Cruisers. Each time more wounded showed up, they rolled the trucks back to make room. By morning the vehicles were 40 yards from where they’d started.

At one point, needing a break, Bahn went for a walk. He found a grassy knoll filled with another 100 wounded.

“It struck me as a glimpse of hell,” Bahn said. “It was so overwhelming. They just kept coming — surge after surge of these horrifically wounded people.”

Yet even 36 hours after the quake, after Bahn had nearly broken his ankle and learned he’d secured a military flight home, Hagopian and other volunteers were back at it, tending to more wounds.

“I’ve never seen so much selflessness,” Bahn said.

Bahn said Hagopian and his wife and the others were heroes. The Hagopian family, in Haiti for Wilhelm’s work in public health, said the same of Bahn.

Sunday morning, Hagopian, Wilhelm and their year-old son Miles are expected to board a plane to the Dominican Republic and begin their trip back to Seattle.

With any luck, Hagopian told his mother during a Skype video chat Saturday evening, they’ll first meet up with Bahn in Maryland.

“I never got to say goodbye,” Hagopian said. “Or thanks.”