Giffords 'hero' intern springs into action after shooting
January 10th, 2011
08:03 AM ET
7 years ago

Giffords 'hero' intern springs into action after shooting

TUCSON, Arizona (CNN) - First, Daniel Hernandez heard the shots ring out. Then, he heard someone yell, "Gun!"

Moments later, he was at Rep. Gabrielle Giffords' side. Less than a week after the 20-year-old intern started working for the congresswoman, he was using his bare hands to stop blood gushing from where a bullet had entered her head.

Hernandez, who trained as a certified nursing assistant, said he lifted Giffords' head to make it easier for her to breathe, then applied pressure to
her wound.

"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 said.

Employees from the nearby Safeway supermarket brought out clean smocks from the meat department to cover Giffords' wound until paramedics arrived, he said.

"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."

She "was my first and only priority," Hernandez added later in a CNN interview. I was "trying to take care of her emotional needs" and "keep her

After the ambulance arrived, Hernandez rode with her to the hospital.

As details emerged about the shooting and its aftermath, praise poured in for Hernandez's role.

"I just really think he's one of the heroes here, because I think it's possible that his swift thinking and his training is what saved her life,"
Arizona Rep. Steve Farley said.

But Hernandez said it was Giffords who deserved recognition.

"People have been referring to me as a hero. I don't think that I am. I think the people who are heroes are people like Gabby, who have dedicated their
lives to public service," he said. "It just makes me happy to know that I could help her in any way that I could."

Giffords "is known for being a fighter," he added. "She's going to pull through."

- CNN's Alan Silverleib contributed to this story

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soundoff (5 Responses)
  1. Seattle Sue

    I'm hoping Ms. Giffords and the other people that was shot by a terrorist have a full and speedy recovery. The assassin was trying to follow directions from one of the top terrorist in America by not retreating and trying to reload. If not for the brave actions of some patriots in the crowd there would have been many more deaths and injuries. My thanks to the patriots and to hell with the terrorists of America.

    January 10, 2011 09:22 am at 9:22 am |
  2. J R Brown

    It's sad that we, as a society, think that a person rendering aid and assistance is a "hero". There was a time when it was just considered what any decent person would do.

    January 10, 2011 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  3. Mike C

    Remarkable young man. He is a doer and a man of action. He just guranteed himself a great future ! Well done – he IS a hero!

    January 10, 2011 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  4. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    Talk about being in the right place at the right time! This man took what he knew and put it to great use.

    January 10, 2011 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  5. Peggy - TX

    Daniel Hernandez is just one of many heroes who will emerge from this tragedy. It also shins the spot light on the villains as well. Even if the minions of the evil organization called the TEA PARTY, are not purposely trying to achieve this result, this is what they achieved .. this is the fruit of their labors.

    When you drop seeds in a fertile soil. You are responsible for what grows. When you cultivate the soil, water it and then fail to pull weeds, you are indeed at fault when weeds grow. The recent act of war on our Government by a mentally ill young man was NOT remotely comparable to other shootings in recent times. This was clearly an act of domestic terrorism. The hard cold fact is that this act did not occur just anywhere, rather it occurred in Arizona – a state where it was very easy for a dysfunctional young man to get high caliber, semi automatic killing machine gun. The fact that the shooter espoused the same hate rhetoric of the Tea Party, which has a major foot hold in Arizona, is not just coincidental. The Tea Party with their lies and distortions, promoting irrational fear, bulling, and hate speech targeting at the federal Government, as well as expressly promoting “second amendment remedies” actively operate to undermine our democratic system.

    January 10, 2011 10:27 am at 10:27 am |