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Community heroes step up to rescue man in Triangle Lake

They said community members offered up their boogie boards as a backboard and used manpower to lift the man up before the ambulance arrived.

Posted: Aug 1, 2020 7:23 PM

TRIANGLE LAKE, Ore. -- After a day of smiles and laughter took a tragic turn, off-duty health care workers and community members banded together on Thursday at the Triangle Lake Rock Slides to rescue a man who had submerged underwater.

Briley Courtright is a 10-year-old from Coos Bay who watched it all happen.

“I couldn't tell if they were playing or not, and I didn't know what to do,” Courtright said.

However, she knew that something was wrong. So she called for help, bringing attention to the man that was nearly drowning. 

“I didn’t want him to die or get hurt or drown or anything,” Courtright said.

Two registered nurses at PeaceHealth’s University District were at the swimming hole during that time. They heard what was happening and quickly sprung into action.

“It had appeared that it wasn’t somebody who went down the rock slide,” nurse Dale Lester said. “It appeared that it was somebody who had either fallen off the log there, had hit their head or something had happened that the person had went under for a significant amount of time and did not come up.”

Moments later the nurses began performing CPR.

“The first thing we did is see if he had a pulse,” nurse Sarah Good said. “You could see he was not breathing. His color was very pale and cold. He was in the water for a little while.”

Being off-the-clock did not stop the nurses from doing the work they had been trained to do. That work paid off and a pulse was finally found. 

“We continued doing resuscitation until there was a pulse and he was breathing on his own,” Lester said. “That was a very rewarding feeling.”

However that was not the only challenge these nurses faced that day. 

“How are we going to get him up there? Lester said. “How are we going to get him to safety? There’s no way a helicopter is coming down here. There's no way any vehicle is coming down there. To have something that you can carry somebody out on is very important.”

They said community members offered up their boogie boards as a backboard, and others used manpower to lift the man up to the top before the ambulance arrived.

Another co-worker drove for miles to reach cell service to call 9-1-1.

Two doctors from PeaceHealth’s Peace Harbor Medical Center were also at the swimming hole while all of this happened. 

“I just jumped in there and started helping out,” Dr. Adam Holbrook said. “I found out that some of them were also medically trained. So that was great to find that I had some other people who could really help out in the situation.”

Medical staff expressed the importance of being aware of your surroundings and becoming CPR certified.

“Wear a life jacket," Lester said. "Even if you are a strong swimmer, if you hit your head - you will go down. If you can come up and resurface, your odds are much higher of a better outcome.”

Courtright said she just wanted to step up and do what she could to help.

“Everybody should help each other, because if you don't, people are going to start getting worse and worse,” Courtright said.

The incident has not left the minds of those who watched it all happen.

“Sarah and I both have been losing sleep thinking about that family,” Lester said. “That’s where our hearts are as nurses. It's also with the patient. In this case, that family is definitely in our hearts and prayers today.”

“I want to know if he is okay,” Courtright said.

The condition of the man is unknown at this time. 

Stay with KEZI 9 News for updates. 

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