You Won't Believe How These 20 Everyday People Ended Up In Situations Where They Needed To Save Another's Life

·12 min read

There's a reason we're all so grateful for the hard work of first responders. Realistically, the average person can't always pull it together during an emergency to do what needs to be done.

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A lot of time, saving a life can come down to what you do in a matter of moments. Regular people who don't have training and tools at their disposal are forced into life-or-death situations every day.

We all hope that when it counts, we can do the right thing. Sometimes that's as simple as calling 911. Other times it means jumping in to save someone's life in a more hands-on manner.

As an anxious person in non-emergency situations, I'm fascinated by the fact that laypeople can save a life. I found these stories on Reddit of all the times lives have been saved by everyday folks and some of them are truly fascinating.

1."Toddler was walking about 20 paces in front of its family by a busy main road. It stops, turns to face the road, and runs like hell into oncoming traffic. I kinda scream/gasp something unintelligible and grab the toddler pulling it back onto the pavement. Family didn't even seem that bothered."

family crossing busy street
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2."A man dropped instantly in full cardiac arrest at my work, turning grey-green and looking just plain dead. A coworker and I did CPR and used the AED to zap him twice. By the time the EMTs arrived (8-ish minutes) he had a heartbeat and his eyes were fluttering open. Can't lie, feels great. Please take a CPR & first aid class."

AED defibrillator
Boy_anupong / Getty Images

3."I was in Hong Kong on business, so my colleague and I went to Repulse Bay. We met up with some girls we'd previously met, drank all day on the beach, hung out, made new friends, and were all hitting a volleyball when a guy our age (early 20s) comes up to us, his voice in a panic saying his friend is buried and they can't get him out of the sand. I immediately thought this was some prank, so we go over to the kid, and literally, all you can see is an arm sticking out of the sand, so we try pulling it and all you can hear is a muffled scream."

repulse bay in hong kong

Idyllic Repulse Bay beach, Hong Kong island South coastline.

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"When we realized what's going on and tried to get closer, the sand caved in and the arm began frantically waving in a panic. Immediately I started digging in the sand with four other people to find this kid's head and then I found it and we dug a small air pocket around his mouth. After about five minutes of carefully digging and pulling, we pulled him out. The beach was empty aside from us and it was getting pitch black out."


4."This July, I was in an airport at the top of an escalator where a woman was trying to deal with her luggage, a baby in a stroller, and a toddler. Her toddler slipped right before they got on the escalator, and without thinking, she reached for him and, in doing so, let go of the baby stroller that was halfway onto the top stair of the escalator."

Little girl in baby carriage with father on escalator in subway
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"The stroller started to tilt downward and when I realized it was about to completely tip over, I dropped my own luggage, grabbed it, and brought it back up to the landing. No idea if I actually saved the kid's life, but the escalator was empty, so I imagine it would have fallen all the way down."


5."I had plans with a friend and he didn't show up. We called him a bunch, and when he finally called back, he said he didn't feel too well, wasn't going out. Whatever, no big deal. He did say I love you a bunch when we hung up, which was also no big deal, we're all a bunch of mushpots. So fast forward to what I thought was the end of my night. I was wasting time on Facebook, and his status was really really off. It was sentimental and not funny, and it just struck me as weird."

"Soooo, I called his phone a couple of times, and resolved to just ride my bike to his house, to make sure he was okay (it was about 4 a.m.). I thought what I was doing was just kind of silly and overly neurotic, but I'm kind of obsessive and I figured, it would be worth waking him up for. Well, he called me back and I told him why I wanted to make sure he was okay, it turned out he was really fucked up and was pondering/sort of attempting suicide. So I went over and bought him a pizza instead. It was terrifying. He was pretty shocked that I knew something was off, but we're buddies. I just knew something was off."

bike seat at night with blurry lights
Tolga Dogan / Getty Images/iStockphoto

6."I was 11. It was probably a 4th of July picnic at my aunt's house. Around dusk, when the adults were all eating on the porch, and the kids were scattered who knows where, I was walking across the backyard to get something to eat. As I passed the pool, I saw a small body floating in it. I remember starting to take one of my velvet mary-janes off (my favorite shoes ever) before I realized I was being stupid and jumped in. It was my 20-month-old cousin. Somehow, he had crawled up the ladder and fell in. Cousin saved."

pool with ladder and lifeguard ring
Theerawat Payakyut / Getty Images/iStockphoto

7."I indirectly saved a woman's life after she wandered into my store and began stumbling around. At first, I thought she was just drunk, mumbling to herself, but I made out three words, 'insulin, blood sugar....' before she completely crashed headfirst into the candy racks. I called the EMTs and they showed up in about three minutes, gave her a shot of something to stabilize her then carted her off to the hospital. One of the cops who responded to the initial call came by later that day to tell me if I hadn't heard the insulin part and alerted the EMTs to it, she could have gone into severe shock and died."


8."I saved my mother's life a few years ago. We were in a bad car crash. She broke 16 bones and punctured a lung. I secured her head so she could breathe more easily (she was being suffocated by the steering wheel), and I managed to stop most of the bleeding from her right leg (open femur fracture). It felt like years before the ambulance came, and my now fiancee was in the backseat with a broken back. I talked him out of crawling through a broken window and calmed him down (which is no small achievement if you know him). The paramedics visited me in the hospital the day after, telling me what difference I made. It made a really horrible situation a small bit better."


9."Chugging wine with some friends at a lake years ago, watching a kid swim out too far — then not seeing him anymore. As the realization set in, my friend ran out there first, dove into the water, and I was about 45 seconds behind (I hesitated). We both swam out to the center of the lake and he pulled the kid up. I swam alongside him, helping him drag the kid back to shore. The kids' family watched as my friend pumped his chest, choked on water, and came back. It was a Mother's Day I will never forget; the family didn't even thank us."

lake with small crooked dock
Oliver Hlavaty / Getty Images/iStockphoto

10."I was skateboarding home from my university two years ago and I thought I saw a woman struggling to push her car into a parking lot (thought it had died on her). I had a small internal conflict about whether to help or not. Decided to stop and ask if she needed help. Turns out she was choking, seven seconds later, I saved her life.


11."My freshman year of high school, a kid left my class because he needed to go to the bathroom. He didn't look good at all, so I decided to creepily follow him out of the room and to the bathroom. He got to the bathroom and noticed that I was following, and as I was explaining that he looked like death, he passed out cold. I ran and caught him right before his head hit the cement floor. His mom later told me that he had a brain condition, so head trauma would have affected him even more than it would affect a healthy person."


12."I ran after a friend who tried to commit suicide by running out onto a busy highway. Chased her through speeding traffic, tackled her in the median, and held on to her as she tried to break free and run back into traffic."


13."Walking back from work fairly late at night aged 16. Learning about the bystander effect at college, see three guys beating a small guy with bats. Puffed myself up, took action, and charged. Guy suffered from brain damage and was put in an induced coma. Police told me one more hit to the head and he was a dead man."

man holding baseball bat behind his back
Naypong / Getty Images/iStockphoto

14."When I was about four, my 2-year-old cousin ate rat poison. Our dads were "busy" watching football and I ran in and basically flipped my shit until they couldn't ignore me any longer. The words "[Cousin] ate rat poison!" put a fire under them, and they called poison control and rushed him to the ER."

child looking in cabinet with cleaning supplies
Image Source / Getty Images/Image Source

15."I was learning to snowboard. I had been doing bunny hills from the word go. It was the second to last day of the trip, and I finally managed to tackle a blue hill... I carved nimbly and carefully down the entire hill, threw my hands in victory, and screamed as I hit the bottom and ground to a stop in front of a bank of trees. Within seconds, I hear a noise over my own shout and look up the hill. A figure is screaming down the hill directly at me in a B-line. We collide and both get thrown wildly about. My rented board snapped against the tree that was behind, somehow. The girl that hit me smacked a rock and was unconscious."

Ski patrol team rescue injured skier with the special emergency sledges in the Carpathian mountains region
Dmytro Kuznietsov / Getty Images

"Within a short while, the medical team had arrived. One of them had apparently seen the whole thing and thought that I had jumped in front of the girl because she was hurtling towards an oak and would have died for sure. They were all applauding my bravery. Her dad was there, thanking me. I just happened to stop in exactly the right place to ricochet her away from death."


16."I stopped a kid from falling into a bonfire. He was sitting too close in an unsteady camp chair on a slight rise, and he leaned forward too far and was about to fall face-first into a pretty big fire. I grabbed his arm as he tumbled in and swung him up and away from the fire. He screamed bloody fucking murder because he had a hurt arm, and his dad was mad at first but his mom saw the whole situation and was like, 'honey, shut the f—k up, would you rather our kid fell in the fire?'"

bonfire with adirondack chairs and blankets
Warchi / Getty Images

17."I told my father he has to go see a doctor or I would force him. He was super tired all the time... Turns out he had cancer and his liver was about to fail."

doctor talking to patient about healthcare options
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18."I don't know if this really fits. I needed a kidney. My cousin volunteered. During their testing of her, they found a small mass they thought was just fat. It turned out to be cancer. Most kidney cancer apparently is not caught until it’s too late because your other kidney takes on the work, and you don’t get symptoms. She was able to get it all removed and is now cancer-free (didn’t even need chemo, just surgery). Anyway, she claims I saved her life. I claim she saved her own by being willing to donate."

doctor holding human organ for transplant bag
Photographereddie / Getty Images/iStockphoto

19."Many years ago (late 70s) I was going to buy an upright freezer from some acquaintances. Examined freezer in the garage, went out front to seal the deal. Made arrangements to pick it up the coming weekend. Stood and chatted for 10–15 minutes, then got into the car to return home. When I started the car, I realized that I couldn't remember if the freezer door opened to the left or right. Hopped out of the running car, went into the garage to check. Opened left. Opened the door. Inside, terrified, tears rolling down cheeks, sat their 3-year-old son ... To this day I feel that had I not gone back into that garage, that boy would have died."

freezer door
Christian Campbell / Getty Images/iStockphoto

20."I was walking home from a friend's house around 1 in the morning in the summer several years ago. I noticed a guy working on his car, but as he was using the wrench every time he moved, the car would. I walk up to him and said, 'yo buddy, everything alright?' No sooner does the guy roll out from under the car on his creeper than the car falls right down. There were no tires on the front, and that would have definitely crushed him to death. We didn't know what to say. He looked white as a ghost after realizing what had just happened. I said have a good night and went home."

mechanic underneath a car working


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21.Have you ever had the chance to save a life? Has your life been saved by an innocent bystander? Share your stories in the comments.