Daniel Hernandez, Intern Who Helped Save Giffords: Political Discourse Has Become "Completely Destructive"
JUAN GONZALEZ: On Wednesday night, more than 26,000 people attended a memorial service to remember the victims of Saturday’s shooting in Tucson that left six people dead, 20 wounded, including Congressmember Gabrielle Giffords, who remains in critical condition.
One of the highlights of the event was a short speech by Daniel Hernandez, Giffords’ 20-year old intern. He’s been credited with likely saving her life immediately after the shooting.
DANIEL HERNANDEZ: One thing that we have learned from this great tragedy is we have come together. On Saturday, we all became Tucsonans. On Saturday, we all became Arizonans. And above all, we all became Americans. Despite the horrific actions that were taken on Saturday, where so many were lost, we saw glimmers of hope. These glimmers of hope come from people who are the real heroes. Although I appreciate the sentiment, I must humbly reject the use of the word "hero," because I am not one. The people that are the heroes are people like Pam Simon; Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords; Gabe Zimmerman, who unfortunately we lost that day; Ron Barber; the first responders; and also people like Dr. Rhee, who have done an amazing job at making sure that Gabby is OK and those who are injured are being treated to the best of our ability.
AMY GOODMAN: That was 20-year-old junior at the University of Arizona, Daniel Hernandez, addressing 26,000 people, sitting next to President Obama, hugging the President and his wife Michelle Obama, as well as Captain Mike Kelly, whose wife Daniel Hernandez life probably saved. Daniel Hernandez saved the life of Congressmember Giffords simply by—well, Daniel, welcome to Democracy Now! Why don’t you describe what you did Saturday morning—what was it?—around 11:00 your time in the supermarket parking lot?
DANIEL HERNANDEZ: I am an intern with the congresswoman’s office, and I was helping with an event called Congress on Your Corner, where the congresswoman had the opportunity to speak with her constituents one-on-one. I think that’s one of the things that I’ve always admired about Gabby, that she took the time out to really listen to her constituents. And she always said, "'Representative' is not a job title, it’s a job description."
So, we were doing this event. At about 10:00 a.m., we started off. I was in charge of controlling traffic and signing people in. About 10 minutes into the event, so about 10:10, the first shots were fired. When the first shots were fired, the first thought that came into my head was, if there is a gunman, Gabby is likely to be a target, and anyone around her is likely to get injured. So I then ran towards where I knew the congresswoman would be, because I was at the end of the line signing people in.
When I got there, I noticed there were a few people who had been injured, so I started checking for pulses and I started checking to see who was still breathing. The first rule of triage is, you find out who’s stable enough, get them the help that they need, and then you move on. But I was only able to get to two or three people, unfortunately, before I noticed that the congresswoman had been hit. She had been hit in the head. And because she was still breathing, she was still alert, and she was still conscious, she became my first and only priority.
I then tried to do what I could for the congresswoman. The first thing I did was lift her up, because in the position she was in, there was some risk of asphyxiation, because there was blood loss, and she was starting to inhale some of her own blood. So I picked her up, and I sat her in an upright position, propped up against my chest so that she could breathe properly. I then started looking for other wounds. There was only the one obvious bullet wound to the head. So I started applying pressure to the wound, until someone else could come in and take over who was better qualified.