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Firefighter hailed as lifesaver

Retiree gets plaque from woman he saved 26 years ago

RIVERTON — Salt Lake County Assistant Fire Chief Dave Limberg received the usual gifts from co-workers and colleagues at his retirement ceremony Wednesday, but the gift that touched him the most came from a woman he had met only twice before and who made a surprise appearance at Fire Station No. 95.

What Limberg gave Nichole Holman-Lorrigan on June 6, 1975, was the gift of life. It's something neither Nichole nor her mother have ever forgotten.

Limberg was one of the first paramedics in Utah. He used those skills when he was called to the Holman home in 1975. Sixteen-day-old Nichole was choking on food and mucus and stopped breathing.

"She was purple from her toes to her knees to all over," said Nancy Holman, Nichole's mom.

Nancy said her daughter stopped breathing for nearly 10 minutes and thought for sure she had lost her.

Shortly after she called 911, Limberg and his partner, Doug Benson, arrived.

Limberg, who said Wednesday he still has vivid memories of that day, picked up Nichole's lifeless body and suctioned her throat. He then administered CPR to the infant.

A short time later Limberg was able to revive Nichole.

Wednesday, Nichole and her mother presented Limberg with a plaque during a teary-eyed reunion. On the plague are the words, "Thank you for tomorrow."

"I really wouldn't be here if not for (Limberg and Benson)," Holman-Lorrigan said. "What an amazing blessing. It's not often you meet someone who saves your life."

Wednesday was only the third time Holman-Lorrigan and Limberg had met. The first was when Limberg saved her life.

The second was on Nichole's 16th birthday when her mother did some research to track down the paramedics who had saved her daughter's life.

"I never got to say thank you," Holman said. "I'm a very lucky mother."

Despite not seeing her for nine years, Limberg said he knew right away who Nichole was when she walked in the room.

Today, Nichole is married and has a 2-year-old son of her own.

During his 29-year career, Limberg was an area supervisor, a fleet manager, fire marshal and in 1996 he was one of three firefighters who went on a humanitarian mission to the Russian Republic of Georgia.

But it was Wednesday's visit by Nichole and her mother that will rank near the top of his list of memories.

"That's really the payoff," Limberg said. "That's the payoff for a long career."

"He held me in his arms 25 years ago. Now he gets to do it again," said Holman-Lorrigan.


E-mail: preavy@desnews.com