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Intern Likely Saved Congressperson's Life

January 9, 2011

Meet Daniel Hernandez, the intern who likely saved Gabrielle Giffords’ lifeDaniel Hernandez had only been Rep. Gabrielle Giffords' intern for five days, and on Saturday, he may have saved her life.

The University of Arizona junior was standing 30 feet away from the Democratic congresswoman when she was shot in the head at a meet-and-greet event in her district, and he immediately rushed to her side. As everyone on hand waited for emergency medical support to arrive, Hernandez held Giffords's head in his lap and applied pressure to her wound.

At the same time, Hernandez advised others on providing help for the other 20 others injured and killed in the attack—and that quick thinking has led many to label him a hero in Saturday's horrific event.

"When I heard gunshots, my first instinct was to head toward the congresswoman to make sure that she was okay," Hernandez said in an interview with ABC's Christine Amanpour Sunday. "Once I saw that she was down, and there were more than one victim, I went ahead and started doing the limited triage that I could with what I had."

Hernandez, who is 20, told ABC that he simply "shut off all emotion." "I knew I wouldn't be good to anyone if I had a breakdown," he recalled. He noted that he went to help because he had "limited experience in triage and training."

He lifted up Giffords' head, because he feared she might choke on her own blood, and used smocks from the grocery store's meat department as a makeshift bandages for her and other victims.

Giffords, he says, was alert, but couldn't talk.

"'Just grab my hand to let me know that you're okay,'" he recalls telling the injured lawmaker.

According to Hernandez, she squeezed his hand, and he didn't let go, riding with her in the ambulance to the hospital, where she was rushed into emergency surgery.

"It was probably not the best idea to run toward the gunshots," he told the Arizona Republic. "But people needed help."

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