Monday, September 1, 2008

Saving a Life

It's been weeks since I've written anything on this blog. Work has been insane, and because of my injuries I haven't been able to work out until this weekend.

Friday we worked really late so we could take off the entire Labor Day weekend. It was so worth it! There's actually a lot to write about, but I'll save it for later because something incredible happened today. I helped save a boy's life.

Around 4pm I decided to go to the beach for a run. It was a beautiful sunny and windy day and I just couldn't waste it. So I get to the beach, find a nice spot to put my things, and start stretching. I notice there are a lot of surfers out today and quite a few kite surfers too. The conditions were perfect. We had a nice 25-30 knot constant wind and good surf. But I did remember hearing about the riptide warnings on the news earlier in the day.

Now I'm just waiting for my training watch to pick up the satellite signal so I can get going. But I notice some activity on the beach. Boys are pulling a body out of the water. Then another group about 100 yards further away start pulling another body out of the water. Two young boys apparently got pulled in by the riptide. Neither was breathing. In the corner of my eye I saw someone performing CPR on the body farthest away. I go towards the first boy. People were just standing around him doing nothing. The surf was coming up over him. He wasn't pulled up onto the sand far enough. As I approached I couldn't understand why no one did anything. Are these people stupid? or what? This boy was dying! He looked dead but it seemed we might still want to try to do something.

So I did what any normal person with a brain would do. Try to help him. I don't know CPR nor do I know the first thing about saving a person, but I do know that the wrong thing to do is nothing! First I made sure someone had called 911. Then I got some guys to help me put the boy on his boogie board so we could get him farther away from the water that was coming over him. As we were moving him he started to cough/vomit. Good, he was alive! But, yikes! He might choke on his own vomit! So I maneuvered his body so he was on his side and not on his back. More water started coming out. I helped move him so it would go out. Someone handed me a bottle of cold water and said to pour it on his face. I did. And then, the boy tried to speak. He asked me for water which I gave him very carefully. He was now at least breathing, but going in and out of consciousness. He still seemed in critical condition, so I just stayed and comforted him, holding him and rubbing his back. He looked to be only about 14 years old.

A woman near me had the sense to find out who was there at the beach with this boy and get the family's phone number. She got them on the phone and told them what was happening. Emergency personnel arrived but they went straight to the 2nd boy. From reports, he seemed to be the worse of the two. Next a kite surfer came over who had some kind of emergency training background. He helped assess this particular boy's situation and took control of the situation until emergency personnel came over.

Once the emergency personnel were handling this boy I knew he would be taken care of. He at least seemed like he was going to make it. I was satisfied with that. And therefore continued on with my run. I later learned from a friend that these 2 boys were on the news and that luckily both of them made it through.

The run was quite incredible. I went for five and 1/2 miles barefoot on the beach. Incredible isn't even the right word. It was more like insanely pleasurable...Splashing in the water...A constant 25-30 knot wind blowing on me...The wide open space...The smell of the sea air...The feeling of my toes going deep into the sand...And not a moment of tiredness.

There was so much to observe...Like the dozen or so kite surfers flying through the air making 20-30 ft. jumps...The little girl flying a regular kite on the beach looking nervous because she didn't want her kite to crash into me...And the 60ish year old couple waiting for me to pass them so they could closely embrace...the pregnant woman taking an early evening stroll...the man fishing on the beach far away from everyone else.

You see so much life when running. It's quite amazing. When I finished running I sat down and started reading a new book I got, "Ultra Marathon Man - Confessions of an all-night runner." It was such a great ending to my day. The first chapter in that book is so funny it had me in stitches. Picture this: So here I am sitting on the beach as the sun is going down--after my five 1/2 mile run, after saving a little boy--and I'm laughing uncontrollably all by myself.

Life is beautiful and it is very precious. Every second counts so enjoy it. And if you ever see someone in trouble, help them. Don't be one of those cowards sitting on the sidelines.

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