Daniel Hernandez had only been working for shot congresswoman Gabrielle Gifford for less than a week when he was called upon to help save her life.
Hernandez, 20, was the first to administer treatment to Gifford as she lay shot after a disgruntled man opened fire at a campaigning event in Tucson, Arizona.
When he heard the gunshots, rather than run away from them, he ran towards them – knowing people may be injured but also knowing the gunman could still be in action.
“You just have to be calm and collected,” he told the Arizona Republic newspaper. “You do no good to anyone if you have a breakdown. . . . It was probably not the best idea to run toward the gunshots, but people needed help.”
“She was alert and conscious, but she wasn’t able to speak, so the way she was communicating was by grabbing my hand and squeezing,” Hernandez told CNN.
Workers at a nearby supermarket brought out clean smocks to cover her wound until paramedics arrived.
“My main thing was just to keep her as alert as possible and just keep trying to interact with her… The entire time I was with the congresswoman, she was still responding,” Hernandez said.
“She was obviously in a lot of pain, so I let her know to squeeze my hand as hard as she needed to.”
Hernandez accompanied her to the hospital when the ambulance arrived.
Arizona Rep. Steve Farley told the news channel that he considered Hernandz a ‘hero’.
” … Because I think it’s possible that his swift thinking and his training is what saved her life,” Farley said.
However, Hernandez was not accepting such plaudits.
“I don’t think I’m a hero. I think doing something one off is not something heroic,” he told the Arizona Daily Wildcat.
“I think the heroes are people like Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, Ron Barber, Dave Zimmerman, and Pam Simon. They are people who have dedicated their lives to public service so for them it wasn’t just a one time thing, it’s spending their entire lives trying to help others.”