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Inspiration In The Face Of Tragedy: Daniel Hernandez Intern and Hero

Giffords Stretcher
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Daniel Hernandez had been U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’ intern for five days when she was shot Saturday outside Tucson.

The junior from the University of Arizona was checking people in at the “Congress on Your Corner” event when he heard gunfire. He was 30 feet from the congresswoman. When the shots began, he ran toward them.

“When the shots began that morning, he saw many people lying on the ground, including a young girl. Some were bleeding. Hernandez said he moved from person to person checking on them.

He looked up and saw Giffords. She had fallen and was lying contorted on the sidewalk, bleeding.

Hernandez applied pressure to the entry wound on her forehead. He pulled her into his lap, holding her upright against him so she wouldn’t choke on her own blood. Giffords was conscious, but quiet.

Hernandez used his hand to apply pressure until someone from inside Safeway brought him clean smocks from the meat department. He used them to apply pressure on the wound. He never let go of her.

He stayed with Giffords until paramedics arrived. They strapped her to a board and loaded her into an ambulance. Hernandez climbed in with her. On the ride to the hospital, he held her hand. She squeezed his back.

When they arrived at the hospital, Hernandez was soaked in blood. His family brought him clean clothes because the FBI took his for evidence.

The fact that Hernandez was nearby and able to react quickly probably saved Giffords’ life, said state Rep. Matt Heinz, D-Tucson, and a hospital physician.

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