Much has been said about this rescue, but we wanted to provide the full story, as best we know it. Jackson and his family are terrific people, and it has been a pleasure getting to know them since his rescue and recovery. Jackson is a 17 year old from Winston-Salem, NC that suffered an epileptic seizure while swimming in the ocean. This caused him to pass out and drown, which nearly took his life.
First, Oak Island Water Rescue is not the hero of this story. Our role in this rescue was limited to transporting Jackson and paramedics working on him off the beach in our truck to a waiting ambulance. The first real hero on this day was a 10 year old girl that first saw Jackson floating face down and screamed for help. That call for help was answered by a young man named Austin Somers, who grabbed and carried Jackson out of the water and onto the beach. At that point, a visiting nurse from Greensboro named Holly Quinn and her mother, also a retired nurse, started and provided CPR on Jackson for 3-5 minutes, until he was breathing and had a pulse. While everyone else that responded to this call, which included Oak Island Water Rescue, Oak Island Fire Department, Oak Island Police Department, Brunswick County EMS, and the doctors and nurses at New Hanover Regional Medical Center, played a vital role, these 4 people are the reason why Jackson is still with us today. Sometimes, it really does take an island!
As for the call itself, we were dispatched for an emergency transport. That means the patient is already out of the water and needs to be picked up and taken to an ambulance. It is a common call here on Oak Island, and can be responded to with a single member, if needed. In our case, we had 2 members already working at the station, doing repairs to damage caused by Hurricane Isaias. They were immediately able to respond in truck 4482. We had a policy this weekend, due to large Labor Day crowds, to not drive the trucks on beach unless absolutely needed, so the truck went initially to the Oak Island Pier. The driver ran around the building to the beach where another Oak Island Water Rescue member, who had been enjoying the beach with his family, was able to quickly relay to him that we did indeed need the truck. He ran back and drove the truck onto the beach at Trott Street, then to the patient.
Jackson was loaded into our truck by a combination of our members, Oak Island Fire Department, and Brunswick County EMS, and driven to the ambulance. He was then transported to New Hanover Regional Medical Center. He would spent the next several days there, resting and recovering. When he woke up, he told his mother he wanted Bojangles. That was certainly a good sign!
On Wednesday, Jackson was released from the hospital and told his parents he wanted to go the beach. They had only been on vacation and on Oak Island for about an hour before his seizure, so their vacation did not really happen. His mother, who had already been in contact with an Oak Island Water Rescue member, reached out to him. We offered to give them a tour of our station, damage and all, as well as the boats and trucks we use for rescues. Their visit lasted about an hour, and everyone really enjoyed meeting Jackson and his family. Southport Fire Chief Charles Drew and Firefighter Tom Lott just happened to stop by during that time to present us with a $1500 check from Southport Cares to go towards our September Matching Fundraiser. They were able to pray with the family before they returned to Winston-Salem.
Jackson’s family does not have medical insurance and they have set up a GoFundMe campaign to help pay for some of his substantial medical bills related to this event. We very much encourage everyone that is able to donate and share their fundraiser. The Oak Island Angels are also planning a Yard Sale to benefit the family, so please be on the lookout for that wonderful event.
Local and regional television news stations also reported this event. We have captured some of that and combined it into a single video that can be viewed on our YouTube channel. All clips are owned by their respective news stations, and Oak Island Water Rescue does not claim any right to them.