WHILE WRAPPING UP his family vacation in Hawaii, firefighter / paramedic Daniel Harris was settling in by the pool when he heard shouts for help. As the shouting intensified and commotion began to build, Harris made his way towards the uproar. He noticed that a man in waist-deep water was making his way towards the ledge. In his arms, he carried a little girl appearing to be unconscious. “She’s not breathing,” exclaimed the man. Without hesitation, Harris instinctively knew what to do. “Put her on the concrete,” he instructed, and checked the toddler for signs of breathing. She had begun turning blue. She was not breathing. She had water in her mouth. She had no pulse. “Call 9-1-1 now!” Harris shouted, as he knelt into position to begin CPR chest compressions.
He halted compressions after a minute to check for breathing. Still no breathing. Still no pulse. He noticed water in her airway and tried to clear it. Harris resumed chest compressions, trying to preserve her brain function and restore blood circulation. Approximately 40 seconds in, he noticed her complexion change as more liquid surfaced from her little mouth. Once again, Harris cleared her airway, delivered two rescue breaths, and began his third round of compressions. Seconds in, he felt resistance under his palm. Her heart had resumed beating. He delivered two more rescue breaths and heard a gasp for air. Harris cleared the remaining fluid from her mouth and airway, then accompanied the girl’s father to the lobby to meet arriving first responders.By the time the Maui Fire Department arrived, she was breathing on her own and crying. Later that night, Harris received a call from the little girl’s father, explaining that she was on her way towards making a full recovery and thanking him for saving then three-year old Sophia’s life. Today, Sophia is a happy, healthy, vibrant five-year old thanks to Firefighter Harris’ actions.