POLK COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – Parents of a 1-year-old Winter Haven girl say she is alive today because of the heroic actions of an off-duty first responder at a Christmas parade.

He stepped in after several frantic minutes of terror for the child’s family.

“That still haunts me, like, to this day. I’m sure you all can see these bags under my eyes. I haven’t been sleeping since,” said Kerstin Brower.

Brower, her husband, Anthony, their daughter, Elena, their son and other family members were excited to be on the Hubbard Family Trucking Grinch-themed float at the Havendale Christmas Parade Friday.

Elena was in a family member’s arms when people in the crowd alerted them that something was wrong.

“Her eyes were just beat red. They were bulging out. Her lips were turning a different color. You could tell there was no oxygen getting into her,” said Brower.

The family spent several minutes trying everything to her breathing again. Nothing seemed to work.

“She kind of laid her head down on my father’s chest and closed her eyes and at that point, we kind of knew she had given up,” said Brower.

Source: Polk County Fire Rescue

Soon after that crucial moment, off-duty Polk County Fire Rescue special operations paramedic Dustin Bovill jumped on the moving float, offering his help.

“He’s like, I know what I’m doing, I can help her. It was just that instinct, can I trust a stranger with my child’s life right now? Can I do that?” said Kerstin Brower.

“I just think it’s crazy because he risked his own life hopping up on a moving float because you know, one wrong move he could have fallen and easily got run over,” said Anthony Brower, Elena’s father.

According to Brower, Bovill carefully struck Elena’s back and she was back, happy as ever.

Bovill stayed on the float until they were able to get Elena checked out on a rescue truck.

“I would just want him to know he saved Elena’s life,” said Anthony Brower, with tears forming in his eyes.

“I’m like, literally speechless about him. I have no clue what to say besides thank you,” said Kerstin Brower.

In the days since, Bovill has been in communication with Elena’s parents, making sure she was still OK.

“We have admirable members of our organization and they’re always committed. They work hard whether they’re on duty or off duty. It just makes me proud to be the new fire chief here in Polk County,” said Dr. Hezedean Smith, Polk County Fire Rescue Fire Chief.

As for what went wrong with Elena, the Browers are still trying to figure that out.

Before the incident on the parade float, Elena had experienced minor choking spells.

“We’re not too sure exactly what happened. It’s still up in the air on what exactly happened but we are seeing specialists and we are figuring it out because we’re not gonna stop until we get down to the bottom of it,” said Brower.