The Kiss of Life; A Story of Bravery and Survival

Examine the fascinating story and historical significance of an iconic image. Come along as we dissect the heroic rescue in Jacksonville, Florida, illuminating the unsung heroes who sacrificed much to save a life.

Photographer Rocco Morabito was travelling to Jacksonville, Florida, for a photo project in the sweltering heat of July. As he drove past West 26th Street, he saw two employees of Jacksonville Electric Authority working on a power pole. Morabito had no idea that an unexpected tragedy was going to happen.

One of the workers, Randall G. Champion, unintentionally touched an electric line at the top of the pole. A strong electrical shock shot through his body in an instant, knocking him out. Champion was wearing safety gear, yet even so, his life was in jeopardy.

Approximately 400 feet away, J.D. Thompson, Champion’s colleague working on another pole, heard pleas for help and hurried to the scene. Thompson had to act quickly to save his colleague’s life after realising that performing standard CPR on Champion while he was suspended in the air was not possible.

With few choices, Thompson took a risky action. He put his own mouth to seal Champion’s and filled his lungs with life. Thompson applied several hard chest compressions before feeling a weak pulse. Understanding how urgent the situation was, Thompson released his partner from the harness, threw him over his shoulder, and started to down the pole.

Once on the ground, Thompson performed CPR alongside a fellow employee until emergency personnel could arrive. Champion felt his pulse quicken and he started breathing on his own, half-awake, albeit still conscious. Because time was of the importance, Thompson and his team’s courageous acts proved to be crucial.

Photographer Rocco Morabito realised how serious the situation was after stopping at first to take ordinary pictures of the workers. Morabito called for an ambulance using the two-way radio in his car and recorded the poignant moment in which Thompson gave Champion the “kiss of life” on camera. In 1968, the picture won the coveted Pulitzer Prize and attracted attention from all across the world.

Randall G. Champion was given a second chance at life because of J.D. Thompson’s bravery and quick thinking. Champion, who was 64 years old, lived for a further 35 years until dying quietly in 2002. Our beloved photographer Morabito departed from us in April of 2009. The protagonist of this amazing story, J.D. Thompson, was doing well at the time this was written.

The story of the Jacksonville rescue is a moving reminder of the incredible bravery and selflessness displayed by regular people who become heroes when faced with exceptional circumstances. The famous picture preserves the memory of those involved for future generations and captures the spirit of this selfless deed.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *