At 5:42 PM, Oak Island Water Rescue, Oak Island Fire Department, Oak Island Police Department, Brunswick County EMS, and St. James EMS were all dispatched to the beach in the area of East 3rd Place for a report of a male patient in cardiac arrest and/or possible drowning. A helicopter from VitaLink was also requested and landed at Fire Station #1 to transport the patient.
In this very serious situation, local agencies, and the bystanders on the beach, worked together to give this gentleman the best chance for survival. Central Communications Center (CCOM) processed the multiple 911 calls and alerted the appropriate public safety agencies. Oak Island Fire Department was quickly on scene and provided paramedic level care within minutes. Oak Island Police Department made sure the rescuers had room to work, gathered information as to what occurred, and (along with a second Oak Island Fire Department crew) secured the helicopter landing zone. Brunswick County EMS paramedics assisted with providing advanced life support on the beach. That level of teamwork is common here.
Oak Island Water Rescue utilized our new 4×4 truck to transport the patient and rescuers from the beach to the Brunswick County EMS ambulance that continued medical care while transporting the patient to the helicopter. The helicopter landed at Fire Station #1 but the patient was too unstable for air transport, so he was taken by ambulance to New Hanover Regional Medical Center.
Despite the best efforts by everyone involved to save this young father of 6, we were unable to do so. The family and news media reported that he passed away the following day due to his severe neck injuries and swelling that deprived his brain of oxygen. This is a very sad and unfortunate event that his family is now having to process. A GoFundMe page has been setup to accept donations to support the family in their time of need. At the time of this writing, it had generated nearly $160,000. By all accounts this gentleman and his family are wonderful people. The patient was himself a first responder, specializing in rescuing people from collapsed structures. In fact, he was one of the people who rescued others in a recent Durham, NC coffee house explosion.