Ok, I’ve been wanting to share this one with you guys for awhile now, but I was away at the folks house for the past few days and just nabbed myself a free moment. Here goes…
Weekend before last, a couple buddies and I got a late start on what was supposed to be a dawn patrol down here in SD. We tromped on down to a “hike-to” spot that we frequently surf, stoked because there was a little bit of swell in the water and not a lot of folks out - even though it was already 8am on a Saturday. We actually ran into Swaylock’s own Lee V on our way out to the spot, thereby getting a chance to check out one of Lee’s cool “edge boards”. Anyway, we get out there and have one HELL of a fun session. It’s like chest high, mildly offshore, and just the three of us out. It’s even one of the guys BIRTHDAY, if you can believe it. A couple of guys walk by on the beach in front of us, stop and check it out, but then continue on to the next spot down to surf by themseleves - fantastic.
After about three hours, we paddle in, pretty noodled out. We look south and see the two guys, they’re older cats, but ripping pretty good nonetheless on THEIR little peak. Cool. We decide to start the hike back to the car.
Now, what you have to understand here is that this spot is down at the bottom of some relatively formidable cliffs, and there’s only a couple spots where you can access the beach easily. We get down the beach about halfway to the trail access point, and come to a spot where you gotta paddle around a point when it is high tide in order to continue down the beach (where we saw Lee on our way out). We see a wave breaking right here, onto the beach, where usually usually it’s flat water you just need to dutifully paddle aroung to get home. We simultaneously get the same idea, and next thing you know we’re riding high-tide beachbreak, hooting as we jump off our boards in nearly dry sand. Pretty kooky, yet fun as hell.
Meanwhile, the two older dudes from the down the beach catch up to us just as we decide to call it quits (for the second time), and start paddling around the point. On the way, I see yet another little peak on the “access” side of the point, so I paddle over to it thinking “aww, just one more”. Everybody else strokes for shore. As I’m lining up for what will be my last wave of the day (I promise), I see everybody on the beach: my buddies plus the two older dudes, standing there shootin’ the breeze. I paddle in, get a little shot ride, hop off, then turn and paddle toward shore. I can hear a noise so I look up toward the beach and see something I’ve never seen before… and never wanna see again:
My buddies are SCREAMING AT ME. They are waving their arms like madmen and screaming at the top of their lungs, “GET IN HERE - RIGHT NOW!” So I’m thinking “what the…” Then I notice that one of the old guys is crouched in the sand, at the high tide line, holding his buddy’s head out of the foam. Even from this distance I can see that the guy down in the sand is not moving. At all. In fact, he’s got the rag-doll appearance of a dead man.
I try and paddle as fast as I can, but it still takes what seems like forever to hit the beach. When I do, I toss my board to the side and run to the older guys. “What happened?”
The conscious guy replies, “I don’t know, we were just walking along and he fell down like a rock. Now he’s not breathing.”
I look at my buddy who’s helping hold the victims’ head and he says, “and I don’t think he’s got a pulse.” I check - sure enough, no pulse.
I announce that we need to start CPR, and that we need to pull him up the beach toward the cliffs as far as possible. Even as I say this a wave of foamy seawater crashes right into us, some of it going into the unconscious guy’s mouth. We pull him up the beach, get him into position, and just then another surfer runs up. “What’s happening?” he askes, “I’m a lifeguard.”
“Good. I’m actually a PA, and this guy has no breathing and no pulse,” I reply, “but I think he went down less than a minute ago. Let’s do Tandem CPR.”
The lifeguard and I begin CPR. I’m doing compressions, he’s doing breathing. I look up on the cliff above and see my girlfriend standing with a cell phone waving at us, she’s out of earshot but mouthing the numbers “911”. Un-freaking-believable. (Turns out she rode her bike down to film us surfing - something she NEVER does). Just then a relatively big wave slams us, more water everywhere, actually now feeling the backwash PULL US DOWN THE BEACH. Great. My friends spring into action, though, and soon they’ve made a surfboard dam. It works pretty well to shield us from the tidal push while we work.
On it goes. We work on our guy for OVER TWENTY MINUTES. At only two points during this whole period do we have even a brief flicker of a pulse. The coast guard arrives - via boat. They hit the scene and assess our guy. He needs oxygen and defibrillation, so they hook him up. They shock him once, twice, three times.
We get a pulse. We get breaths. Agonal breaths, still, we get breaths.
We check the monitor and see a good heart rate, rhythm, and blood pressure (after the cuff is put on his arm). Un-freakin-believable. Three minutes later, our guy is flying out underneath a coastguard chopper, somewhat stabilized.
Any of you with medical experience will be able to relate to the impossibility of this situation. In all my training, I’ve never seen a guy dead for so long come back. Even in a hospital, with the best equipment at your disposal. You just simply don’t do CPR for twenty minutes and have people come back. But this guy did.
So lucky. Lucky we surfed that dumb little beachbreak, lucky he had not one but two medics around when he went down (heart attack, by the way). Lucky there were surfers around with the audacity to try and keep the rising tide at bay with their boards. Lucky my girlfriend came down to film us at a relatively distant pointbreak, WITH her cell phone on her. Lucky she remembered the name of Newbreak and South Ab to direct the Coast Guard. So lucky.
So, last I heard, our guy was doing alright. According to privacy laws, it is difficult to find out. If anybody down here in SD knows more, give me a PM. I’d kinda like to hear the end of this story myself.