Friday, January 13, 2006

Life is a precious gift!

Life is a precious gift.  It can be taken from us at any moment with no notice whatsoever.  Never was this point brought home any clearer to me than it was early this afternoon on the docks.  Here’s what happened.


I had just finished my lunch and was heading back to my dock shack when I saw my favorite dentist at the sailboat hoist preparing to launch his boat.  He is in a partnership on a racing sailboat and takes part in all the local regattas.  My assistant had already finished his lunch and was helping someone launch a powerboat at the main hoist.


I went over to lend a hand at the sailboat hoist and to catch up on what’s going on with my dentist.  We talked for a bit and I learned that he and his partner were putting the sailboat in the water so that they could take the trailer to have it worked on.


We got the sailboat in the water with no trouble at all and decided on a slip to move it to for the time period it will take to get the trailer worked on.  I headed over to the slip to catch their lines as my dentist, Kevin, and his partner made ready to cast off and motor over. 


I was almost to the slip when I heard Kevin yell at the top of his lungs, “SAM!”  I started moving quickly back towards the ramp to get me off the dock.  I looked over and saw our maintenance supervisor running full speed towards Kevin at the sailboat hoist docking area.  Kevin was bent over the side of the dock and holding on to his partner who was in the water.  The maintenance supervisor got there fast and helped Kevin get his partner out of the water and stretched out on

the dock.


 I yelled to my assistant to grab our heart defibrillator while I ran for the golf cart. Arriving as quickly as we could, I ran down the sailboat hoist dock and saw Kevin performing mouth to mouth resuscitation on his partner.  When I bent down on the ground to set up the defibrillator, I looked at Kevin’s partner and his face had turned blue and his eyes were wide open with a blank expression.  He was not breathing and he had no heart beat.  I tore the protective backing off the paddles and stuck them in the proper positions as the partner coughed some water up.  I turned on the defibrillator and the machine ran a quick analysis and said a shock was called for.   I cleared Kevin from the body and pushed the shock button.  The partner’s color almost immediately changed from blue to beet red and the machine said another shock was not called for.


Kevin threw himself into the mouth to mouth resuscitation.  We now had a pulse and needed the partner to start breathing on his own.  More and more water came up from the partner.  Kevin kept clearing the breathing passage and kept on working on him.  The eyes closed and opened again and the partner started breathing on his own, coughing up volumes of water each time.


I had brought a towel down that I always keep on my golf cart and shoved it under the partner’s head.  Kevin told me to look at the coloration around the partner’s fingers and told me that the man was going into shock.  Kevin asked for my sweatshirt and I took it off and wrapped it around the partner. More and more it seemed the man was able to breath on his own and Kevin could devote his energy to keeping the breathing passage clear as water and mucus kept coming up.


During all this activity, the maintenance supervisor used his cell phone to call 911 and request an ambulance.  I was told the ambulance arrived in just a mater of minutes, but it seemed an eternity to me.


The partner was drifting in and out of shock and was barely conscious.  He could not recognize us and did not know where he was.  As the EMT technicians tried to strap him onto the flat board and secure his neck in a brace, the partner fought us.  I had to hold his legs so he would not kick one of the EMT’s into the water. 


A second ambulance arrived as well as two policed cruisers.  With the help of the second team of technicians, the partner was finally strapped down on the board and transferred to a gurney for the trip up the dock ramp and into the back of one of the ambulances.  Just before the doors to the ambulance were closed, the partner finally looked at Kevin and asked, “Kevin, what the hell’s going on here?”  Kevin reassured the partner and sent the ambulance off towards the hospital.


The second set of EMT’s wanted a full account of what happened from Kevin as one of the police officers, a friend of mine, cornered me for a full report for his bosses.  My policeman friend called the County Marine Patrol Unit who at first said to hold us there until they could arrive on scene.  A second call to the marine patrol resulted in them saying that because the boat was not moving at the time of the accident, they did not need to respond and the police could release us after they finished their report.


It seems that after I had walked away from their boat earlier, the partner was getting ready to cast off and jumped over the boom on the sail boat’s mast to cross the boat.  His foot caught on something and he sprawled face first out onto the concrete dock and lost consciousness.  Kevin secured his line to the cleat on the dock in order to go and help the partner.  He took his eyes off the partner only for a second, but in that short amount of time the partner had slipped off the dock into the water.  He disappeared below the surface instantly and was well on his way to the bottom before Kevin was able to grab him to pull him back up.  Kevin had screamed “SAM!” When the partner had first hit the dock and the maintenance supervisor reached Kevin very quickly to help pull the partner back up onto the dock.


After the event was over and all the emergency vehicles had left, Kevin and I sat down on the chairs I keep in front of my dock shack.  We were both still shaking and passed light conversation between us as we tried to calm back down before we had to do anything else today.  Kevin thinks the prognosis is good for the partner, but promised to call me as soon as he hears what the doctors have to say.


Kevin called me from the hospital before I left work.  His partner is listed in critical condition.  He will on a respirator for several days.  He ingested a huge amount of salt water and when his condition stabilizes they will have to try and cleanse the salt from his lungs.  At some point after he comes off the respirator, they will do a CAT scan to determine the extent of his head injury sustained when his head hit the concrete dock.  His name is Bill and he could use your prayers right about now.


All in all, it was quite a Friday the thirteenth for me today.  I don’t ever want to have to go through something like that again.  I am glad, though, that I signed up for the CPR course I took this last August to freshen up my skills.  If any of you have a chance to in the future, take the course.  You never know whose life you might save, or when.




tc01hm said...

Amen and bless you for the skills that you have gotten. I hope all goes well for Kevin's partner.

nightmaremom said...

{{{{Sam}}}}  I am so sorry your day was so traumatic, yet I am so very happy you were there to help.  You know your friend, Bill, is in our thoughts and prayers.  
Relax and hug your loved ones....

fchgrl said...

Oh truly are an angel! Bill will be in my prayers of hope and you in my prayer of thanks for people like you and your crew.  This story hit very close to home. In August a close friend and his wife had started their first day of retirement by starting down the Mississippi River in their fully restored wood sailboat. They had sold everything here and bought a home in Florida. They had only gone about 70 miles downriver when he took the dog ashore, as his wife watched from the deck about 200 yards out, she saw him slip getting out of the dinghy, fall onto the rocks and slip into the water. By the time she was able to swim against the current and pull him out, he was already gone.  She climbed the banks up to a road and flag down help. This man was a friend to all and he was the magnet that brought our group of friends together. I so hope that you know how blessed you are to be chosen to be at the right place at the right time! Someone up there must think you are a pretty special guy.
Take care

madcobug said...

Good thing you had taken the refresher course. That was a scary thing to happen. Bill will be in my prayers. Helen

rollinghillsides said...

Oh Sam, what a terrible day for all concerned!   Hopefully this poor man will make a full recovery, thanks to all of you who were well-trained, ready and able to help him.  What a story, it had my BP pumping, that's for sure.  Hope you're able to find some restful and peaceful moments this weekend to recover from your ordeal.   Wishing you well.   Judy

jlocorriere05 said...

Thank God you and Kevin were there for Bill and knew what to do. I'm praying that Bill will make a full recovery. I hope you have managed to calm down, it must have been so traumatic for you. Friday the thirteenth wasn't a good one for you today, let's hope you never go through another one like this. Jeannette.

sazzylilsmartazz said...

Here's hoping he will be well soon and thanking you and your crew for your proficiency.

dtbrierly said...

WOW Sam! What a frightening day for all of you.  Life can be gone in a second, but with people like you and Kevin, lives are saved.  To have that defibulator handy was amazing.  I'm so glad they are more readily available.  I will keep Kevin's partner in my prayers.  I thank you for reminding us what we can do to make those around us safe.

I know you are with your family tonight.

Bless you Sam


robinngabster said...

So glad you were there to help but sorry it happened in the first place. Sounds like you did everything did good Sam.

ajoleblon said...

Just when you think you are in control of your life something like this happens and you become aware of just how much you depend on your fellow man to be there for you...and Sam, you passed the test and also passed on a valuable lesson.  We should all be prepared and equipped to save, if required, whomever we pass on the street.

mavarin said...

You and Kevin saved a life today.  Hang on to that, because it could have turned out so much worse.


childebrand1968 said...

Wow, Sam!

I'll keep Bill in my thoughts and wish him a full, speedy recovery.

Thank God, you and Kevin were there, though!  If this had happened with just the two of them... I don't even want to think about the outcome.

I keep my CPR (adult & children) skills up to date, obviously one never knows when they'll need to use it...

I sure hope you have a very quiet weekend on the docks :)

You're a great guy, Sam....


rap4143 said...

Sam how terrible...certainly my prayers are with him and his family.

lurkynat said...

Dear Sam
good job! I'm so proud of you! I'm so osrry that your adn your friends had to go through sucha scarye vent!
huggggggs, natalie

stupidsheetguy said...

I hope that you're getting some rest at this late hour, because I know how this kind of thing must be lingering in your mind. I know Bill has a long way ahead of him, and that it's probably going to be a rough road, but because of you, at least today his road didn't end. You helped save a life today, so don't forget that. He's lucky to have had you on hand!

Good job!


ksquester said...

TAlk about angels being on earth. You did good Sam. Bill will recover. He will probably have pnemonia for awhile, but he will recover.  Send Paulette my regards.   Anne

onemoretina said...

Sam, that is some story.  And you are so right, you just never know what is going to happen, or when.  This man was so lucky to have you and Kevin there.  Think what might have occured if there was no one on the scene who knew what to do in an emergency.  I will remember Bill in my prayers.  Tina

bedazzzled1 said...

I was so delighted to see a new entry in here, but my smile quickly faded as I read. I found myself holding my breath, too. What an awful ordeal for all involved. I am very, very impressed by how well everyone reacted in that emergency situation. And that includes YOU. Thank the good Lord the man no small part to you. The right people in the right place at the right time.

Life is definitely to be treasured.

Please keep us posted on how he is faring.

coy1234787 said...

     Bill is one lucky man to have had both you and Kevin
there during those first few crucial moments. I guess
having something like this happen would be a reminder
of just how precious life is.
    Good job Sam.
                              *** Coy ***

jeadie05 said...

What a horific exprience for all concerned ,thank goodness you had the right equipment to hand and the knowledge to use it ,and were able to work as a team so save Bills life ,we pray he recovers ............Jan xx

bvaneps834 said...

wow, Sam, as an emergency room nurse that was an exciting entry to read. Brought back many memories. You really did a great job. So wonderful that the defibs are being in more and more places! and so great you knew how to use it!

ally123130585918 said...

Life is precious Sam, and today you helped save one - how proud we are of you and Kevin - and so glad you had the skill to do the things necessary to maintain his life. I pray Bill makes a full and quick recovery.....Ally

ondinemonet said...

Wow Sam!

I will be thinking of your friend in the coming days, be sure to keep us posted on his condition. Hang in there...something like that can shake you up. I will be thinking of you as well.

Always, Carly :)

sunnyside46 said...

it is a life-changing experience you had.
sometimes the reandomness of fate scares me.

barbpinion said...

Life IS indeed a precious gift; one we too often take for granted. I'm so happy that this man is going to be alright; that he had quick thinking people around to help him in his time of need.
God bless you, Sam. You're such a blessing.

labdancer51 said...

The poor man,  I do hope he will be alright.  It must have been a terrifying ordeal for all of you.  No wonder it seemed an eternity.  Well done for your quick reactions. :o)

Sandra xxxx

slbourgoyne said...

And I thought having to have emergency oral surgery on My birthday - Friday the 13th -  was bad.  Glad it seems to have worked out ok.  Prayers in the way.  Lynn

coljan61 said...

Medicine is my business, and I don't know if I could have performed as well or effectively as you did.  Please keep us informed as to how he does.  God surely put you in the right place at the right time.

piperacharmed1 said...

I am just amazed that you all were able to save thoughts and prayers are with him.


bosoxblue6993w said...

YIKES, SAM ... a thing like this will sober you up for 6 months, won't it?

mutualaide said...

Life is so prescious Sam.  I am glad you had your refresher course and like you, I encourage anyone to learn CPR and keep the certification.   What a hellacious day for you!

astaryth said...

Wow! How scary! Lucky for Sam that you and Kevin both knew what to do and did it... It probably meant his survival!! Let us know how it turns out for him.

leanntepoorten said...

Geez Sam, I am so sorry that you had to go through that horrific experience but at the same time am very thankful to you for putting those skills to use! You saved a life on one of the most renowned 'omen' days in a year! Kudos to you and your dentist friend as well as your assistant!!!! You acted in a most wonderful way.

I witnessed a tragic accident a few years back and am trained in both CPR and First Aid but upon running to the side of the 14 year old boy, froze up physically while my mouth told people what to do. I felt like such a useless idiot. In my heart I knew that this boy was going to die, which he did but the image of that face will never leave my mind.

Watch out for post traumatic stress syndrome and take care of yourself.


deabvt said...

Wow! That was quite a team you had there!
Terrific work!

jeroldssis said...

Wow!  I have not been getting your alerts and thought I would come by just for the heck of it say hi and I see this!  I'm so glad you had the defibrilator.  I've worked for the Fire Dept for many years and these are amazing.  I wish everyone could have one.  Good for you!  You saved a life!


naturegirlfromny said...

Goodness, that was a close call, good thing you had the defib and partner knew CPR.  Could of ended alot worse!  Good job!  Linda

deveil said...

wow Sam, I came here to catch up and wow,  I'm glad you were there to help.  


ow517 said...

you can never know what is round the corner, but I'd much rather have a cup of tea if that's OK

globetrotter2u said...

Wow. You evidently saved this fellow's life with the defibrillator! What an amazing experience and I am with you in hoping that you'll never need to repeat it.

(Also makes me wonder if I actually want to go through with the sailing course that the hubby signed us both up for.)


schoolgal040 said...

I found your journal from Donna over at This n That and Hockey. I read your story and I cried, truly big tears. I thank you for being so educated and having the proper equipment to save this mans life. You are a HERO and a very brave man. I am in the medical field (a transcriptionist only) but know full well how diffult it can be to keep a clear head in a situation like this and you did it to perfection.

God Bless,