CHARLOTTE (QUEEN CITY NEWS) – A quick-thinking off-duty Charlotte firefighter came to the aid of a drowning man while vacationing in Virginia Beach over the Labor Day weekend this month.
According to city officials, the rescue occurred at an area beach. Off-duty Charlotte Firefighter Demario House was spending the holiday weekend with his two young sons.
“The day started just like any other day. Me and my two sons were just spending time together at the beach. Just normal father, son time, but things changed quick,” House said in a statement, released this week.
City of Charlotte officials said House’s boys, ages 4 and 7, coaxed him to join them in the water.
“I was sitting on the beach watching my sons, and I looked up and could see what looked like a silhouette of what looked like a person floating in the water,” House said. “I stood up. And I could see that silhouette or person going up and down in the water with the current.”
House walked toward the water where his sons were playing in ankle-deep water, city officials explained.
“I asked my son if that guy (the body of the victim) was playing, and my son said, ‘It doesn’t look like it.'”
Seconds later, House reportedly began making his way to the person.
“By the time I was close to him, I was about chest deep in water and he was just floating back to the top. The water was crowded, and people were going past him and not paying much attention.”
There was another man near the body.
“I asked if he thought the man was OK, and he said he was about to check,” House said.
The bystander lifted the arm of the victim and there was no response, city officials said.
House reportedly grabbed the lifeless body and turned it face up.
“I rotated him onto his back, and he was blue from his face down to his neck and his eyes and mouth were open. At that moment, everything just snapped,” he said in a statement.
House was able to bring the man back to shore where he began chest compressions to help restore blood flow to the brain and other vital organs, including the lungs and the heart.
“My training kicked in. I remember when I got to about 30 compressions that people started gathering around us. My main focus was to focus on that chest,” he said.
A bystander reportedly positioned the man’s head to the right.
Roughly a minute later, lifeguards were by House’s side with a bag valve mask to provide positive pressure ventilation which helps patients who are not breathing or not breathing adequately.
The man was loaded onto an ambulance.
“As a firefighter, I have the training. Things could have gone left or right, but I was in the right place at the right time and my training kicked in,” he said. “I have the training, and I was prepared.”