A man drowning in Virginia Beach, Virginia was rescued by a Charlotte Fire firefighter who was there on vacation.
The incident happened at a beach when off-duty Charlotte Fire firefighter Demario House was spending the Labor Day 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," said House.
The two junior House kids, 7-year-old Miracle and 4-year-old Caiden, couldn't wait to hop in the water, but first the family wanted to find the perfect spot in the sand to enjoy a beautiful day.
They chose a spot where House could keep an eye on the boys if they wanted to play in the water.
Dad gave the go-ahead for the boys to storm the water and the day morning began.
The beach was crowded with people and a clear, hot day at the beach, and the boys coaxed dad 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. My first instinct was to check it out and see what was going on."
House walked toward the water where his sons were playing in ankle deep water.
"My son's thought I was coming out to the water to play with them, and 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 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.
House 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.
House needed to get the body to shore as quickly as possible to resuscitate the man. The current of the water had gotten a little swifter, and House lost his footing a couple of times when the sand shifted under his feet.
Once they arrived on the sand, House began chest compressions to help restore blood flow to the brain and other vital organs, including the lungs and the heart itself.
"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 positioned the man's head to the right.
"Water started to come up, and I kept doing compressions," House said.
An ever-vigilant dad, House scanned the crowd that had grown to about 100 people. He saw his children nearby and kept working to save the man.
"I kept on the compressions and then he took his first breath with too big gasps for air," House said.
About 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 ambulance arrived, and the man was trying to get up and asked what happened, but the lifeguards kept him calm and told him stay down," House said.
The man was loaded onto an ambulance. And with lights flashing, sirens whaling the incident was over.
"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."
As a dad, House said that giving his kids a feeling of safety and security is important.
"The best feeling about that entire experience was when my sons said, 'my daddy's a hero'. I might help save lives with guys at the department, but there was nothing like hearing my sons say that I'm a hero."