When a shark bite victim needed help, this 12-year-old jumped in with life-saving treatment

The American Red Cross is nominating a Maui girl for a National Lifesaving Award.
Published: Oct. 13, 2022 at 6:39 PM HST|Updated: Oct. 13, 2022 at 9:49 PM HST
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PAIA (HawaiiNewsNow) - Sept. 3 was a normal Saturday for Emma-lee McCord, 12, who was hanging out with friends at Paia Youth and Cultural Center.

And then suddenly, everything changed.

“This girl ran over there screaming, ‘Help! Help! We need first aid!’” Emma said.

A visitor from France suffered a shark bite at nearby Paia Bay.

Emma said she and her friend Ari rushed over to help.

“I was gonna walk away but then I saw that she was about to faint, and I felt really bad, and I just wanted to help,” said Emma.

“Emma … she kind of scooted her way in,” Ari Anderson said. “That’s when she started putting a lot of pressure.”

The woman suffered critical injuries to her arms.

Emma and Ari said several bystanders surrounded the victim trying to help.

“Some girl was pouring water on her head, but Loren taught me, he said that if you put water on their head, then you can drown them,” Emma recalled. “So, I just told her to stop and just like put something cold on her head.”

Loren Lapow is a Red Cross volunteer and works at Paia Youth and Cultural Center.

“Such an interesting coincidence that one week after we had trained the kids in first aid, CPR, AED, there was a shark attack here at Paia Bay just 100 yards away from our youth center,” Lapow said.

Lapow also runs a program called the Maui Hero Project. His mission is to teach youth CPR and first aid.

”I was 18-years-old at a rock concert where somebody went unconscious, and we didn’t know what to do,” Lapow recalled. “We all just stood around and stared at each other and I swore at that moment that never again would I not be trained.”

Lapow and Red Cross officials said it’s an honor to nominate Emma, a seventh grader at Kalama Intermediate School, for the prestigious National Lifesaving Award.

“Very excited to nominate her for a Red Cross Lifesaving Award,” said American Red Cross Maui County Disaster Program Manager Jenny Worth.

“It will be signed by the President of the United States. Just proof of how incredibly valiant her effort was.”

“To be nominated for a national award is few and far between. It is a pretty elite honor in the Red Cross. These these honors are typically reserved for like professional first responders,” said Lapow.

Anyone can help save a life by getting trained by the American Red Cross. They offer several classes including CPR training statewide. Sign up here.