Being a hero doesn't just come with the job for first responders - it's a way of life.
You don't clock in or out, you just jump in and help!
That’s why the Red Cross is honoring Lt. Stephen Curry as part of its annual Celebration of Heroes breakfast.
As a firefighter and EMT Curry uses a lot of equipment to help save lives, but one day last summer he had nothing fancy to offer a child in crisis, just himself.
Curry and his wife were sitting on the beach one morning with their two daughters.
He couldn't help but keep an eye on a young boy playing in the ocean, despite a yellow flag warning and no lifeguard on duty.
“I could tell he was getting farther and farther out. He hit a spot in the ocean where a large set of waves came in, he went under, when he popped back up ... he shrieked. It was that moment - it was done. I knew that if I didn't act or anyone acted, he was going to drown right in front of my eyes,” Curry said.
Fighting the current himself, Curry finally got to the boy.
“When I got him, I grabbed him around his neck. In through different training in swift water and water rescue I knew that there were some things I was going to do as I made my approach to him knowing that he would be in full-on panic mode. Weirdly enough for a 10-year-old kid he put up a heck of a fight. The best that I could do at that point was basically be next to him and have my hand under his armpit and I basically treaded water for the both of us. He became dead weight at that point,” Curry said.
Waves kept crashing on the two and Curry watched as the shore got smaller and smaller.
“It’s that feeling that I kept seeing in my mind of looking down the beach and up the beach and not seeing anyone and saying ‘Okay, I am literally out here alone and if this goes bad my wife is going to watch her husband die in addition to a family that’s here on vacation, they’re going to leave minus one.’ I think that may have helped me push through some of the initial exhaustion,” said Curry.
Curry kept fighting. He eventually made it closer to the shore with the child.
“I look around as this wave just crashed over both of us and we somersaulted the rest of the way on the beach and we got up and I just felt pure exhaustion,” said Curry.
On-duty emergency crews began caring for the boy.
While he caught his breath.
“I remember later on that afternoon as my wife and I were kind of sitting on the beach trying to chill out, trying to decompress from this incident I think I just kind of stared at the ocean was like wow what just happened. Was that incredibly stupid or was that a good thing,” Curry said.
Curry risked his life to save another and that is heroic.