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Always Ready, Always There: Hero Airman, police officer resuscitates teenager

  • Published
  • By Maj. Angela Walz
  • 162nd Wing

Senior Airman Fernando Hernandez, a 162nd Force Support Squadron (FSS) food service shift leader, is being hailed as a hero in his local community for saving the life of a 14-year-old boy this week. Hernandez is a part-time, drill-status Guardsman with the 162nd Wing in Tucson, and he also serves as a full-time police officer with the Nogales Police Department (NPD) in southern Arizona.  

“Senior Airman Hernandez epitomizes the bravery and fortitude of being both an Airman in the Arizona Air National Guard, and a police officer with the Nogales Police Department,” said Lieutenant Colonel Ryan Avery, 162nd FSS commander. “We’ve always been thankful to have him as a member of our team, but today we’re especially thankful for the life that he saved. ‘Always ready, always there,’ is our National Guard motto. He took it to the next level.”

On July 3, Hernandez was on patrol for the NPD when he was alerted to a local hotel for a drowning. Upon arrival at the scene, two men were already performing CPR on the youth, but he remained unresponsive and without a pulse. Senior Airman Hernandez continued CPR until the boy became responsive and paramedics arrived to transport him to the hospital.

"We have a debt that we can never repay Officer Hernandez,” said Laura Lopez, the boy’s mother. “He's a great policeman and human being. We bless him and his family and we are eternally grateful," she said.

The Arizona Department of Health Services reports that drowning is the third most common cause of unintentional injury-related deaths in the state, and in 2014 the Arizona Child Fatality Review Program identified that 29 children had died from unintentional drowning.

The NPD posted this sentiment to their Facebook page: “Officer Hernandez, you saved a life and have showed the exemplary type of officers that we have at the Nogales Police Department. Your actions are nothing short of heroic, great job!”

Hernandez has worked for the NPD for three years, including the last year in which he has served as a police officer. He said he always felt inclined to serve his country in the military, and joined the FSS in the Air National Guard because his family owns a restaurant in Nogales and he already had many of the skillsets needed for the position.