Currituck Fire & EMS help save two beachgoers from cardiac arrest in past month

Access near the Currituck Beach Lighthouse. [ photo]

In less than a month, Currituck County Fire & EMS personnel stationed in Corolla have saved the lives of two vacationers who went into cardiac arrest on the beach.

Deputy Chief Tim Riley said in the past year, the survival rate of vacationers who had a cardiac arrest while in Corolla has been 30 percent higher than the average national success rate of just 8 percent.

Quick response time and proper staffing of emergency crews has been key to helping those victims survive.

“Both fire engines staffed in the Corolla Fire District are state certified A.L.S. equipped paramedic fire engines,” Riley said.

The first incident happened the evening of May 25, when a 37-year-old man from New York fell unconscious in the ocean.

According to a news release, his fiancé and bystanders removed the victim from the ocean and started CPR until Currituck County Fire & EMS arrived and started advanced life support for 15 minutes and were able revive him.

Five days later, he was released from the hospital.

Last Saturday, June 15, a Maryland 49-year-old went into cardiac arrest near the Bath House Ramp while swimming in the ocean.

Corolla Beach Rescue Lifeguards were immediately on the scene, and used CPR and an automated external defibrillator until EMS arrive. After 17 minutes, the patient had a pulse.

After being flown to Sentara Norfolk General Hospital in Norfolk by Dare Medflight, he was out of the hospital on Tuesday.

He planned to have a reunion with his rescuers on the beach Friday morning before returning home.

Riley said that along with their personnel, it has taken a team effort for these stories of survival to have a happy ending.

“We also credit the collaboration from the Currituck 911 center, Corolla Beach Rescue, Corolla Volunteer Fire Department, Currituck County Fire-EMS, Sheriff’s Office and Nightingale Air Ambulance,” Riley said.

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Sam Walker was news director for, Beach 104, 99.1 The Sound, Big 94.5 WCMS and Z 92.3 from August 2011 to March 2022.