When Orlando police Officer Curtis Neraasen drove up on a car accident last month in Pine Hills, he knew it was bad and people were hurt.
He ran up and saw a bystander pulling an injured 15-month old girl who wasn’t breathing from one of the vehicles.
“When I first got closer to her, I could tell her body was like fighting for air,” Neraasen said. “My training kicked in. Once she turned on her side, after a few moments, she started coming back.”
The girl was rushed to Orlando Health’s Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children in critical condition, but was stable because Neraasen was able to get her to start breathing again. After five days the girl — whose name is Miracle — left the hospital healthy.
“And it’s in no [small] part [thanks] to the very first responder on the scene,” Chief Trauma Surgeon Dr. Donald Plumley said Tuesday, as the hospital awarded Neraasen its Pediatric Life-saving Award. He also was recognized by Orlando police Chief Orlando Rolón.
“Your split second, critical thinking not only saved a life but has brought a positive light to our profession,” Rolón said. “You have demonstrated the honor of wearing the badge.”
Neraasen said saving the girl’s life was a team effort.
“This was not a solo act by any means,” he said. “This was definitely the community, law enforcement, first responders, all the way to the nurses and doctors at the hospital coming together and working together as a team.”
But Plumley, who treated the girl after she arrived at the hospital, said Neraasen’s quick actions were crucial to her recovery.
“This is a situation where minutes are too long. Seconds are important,” Plumley said.
Neraasen typically does not work in the area but was taking someone home from another call he had earlier in the day when he came upon the crash.
“You know, sometimes we’re placed in situations for a reason,” he said.
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