Vallejo firefighter saves woman from drowning while vacationing in Hawaii

A Vallejo apprentice firefighter-paramedic is credited with saving a woman from drowning while he was on his family’s Hawaiian vacation.

On June 18, Ramon Villanueva was on the Marriot Hotel’s beach in Oahu with his wife and two sons when he looked at the lagoon.

“I take a look at the beach and notice a woman face down and a bystander trying to bring her to shore,” said Villanueva.

Villanueva jumped into the water and helped pull the woman to shore. He said she appeared to be in her 50s or 60s, was unconscious, and in bad shape.

“I flipped her over. She was blue in the face. She did have a pulse, but was having trouble breathing.”

Villanueva didn’t have his paramedic gear, but he knew to get the woman on her side.

“What happens is when you’re unconscious, muscles become flaccid and your tongue drops to the back of your throat and blocks your airway,” said Villanueva.

“Get her on her side, it opens her airway up.”

The woman started coughing up water, was taken to the hospital and survived.

Villanueva returned to work at the Vallejo Fire Department on June 21 and didn’t tell anyone about what happened in Hawaii. His wife, however, posted on Facebook the thank you letters he received from the Marriot Hotel and the woman’s daughter.

The Vallejo firefighters saw the post and eagerly shared it on the department’s social media accounts.

“We have 13,000 reached so far,” said firefighter paramedic Anthony Shair-ali. “I’m extremely proud. I’m proud to call him a friend, a coworker, and a brother.  It means a lot to me actually, because it shows the public and our family and friends what we do is not for just the paycheck, it’s who we are.”

The firefighters hope to get their first viral post for Villanueva’s heroism.

Villanueva said he’s just relieved he was able to help someone.

“Makes you feel good knowing that the person you helped is going to get out of the hospital.”

The Villanuevas won't be taking another family vacation for a while. He and his wife and expecting a baby girl soon.