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Drowning Victim Thanks Honolulu First Responders for Saving His Life

Wayne Yoshioka

Honolulu First Responders transport more than 56-thousand patients to hospital emergency rooms each year. But, rarely do their patients have the opportunity to thank them face-to-face.HPR’s Wayne Yoshioka reports.


Credit Wayne Yoshioka
Marilyn and Larry Gambone, from Texas, thanked first responders

Seventy-year old Lawrence Gambone was snorkeling in the waters off Hanauma Bay on May 24, when he got into trouble.


“I have a bad heart.  I think I had some kind of a cardiac arrest and that’s why I was floundering in the water, which, the lifeguards saw.  And then, I think my heart finally stopped.”


Credit Wayne Yoshioka
Ocean Safety lifeguard, Elizabeth Bradshaw, was the first to reach Gambone and got a hug from Marilyn Gambone

Ocean Safety lifeguard, Elizabeth Bradshaw, spotted Gambone and paddled on a surfboard 100 yards to Gambone’s location.

“It’s quite a full paddle out to the slot.  There’s a spot in Hanauma Bay that’s kind of a hot spot for rescues because of the current that pulls out.”


 Bradshaw was a swimmer and played water polo in high school before becoming a lifeguard in California, where she grew up. With her partner, lifeguard, Jared Javero, she administered CPR all the way in and brought Gambone to shore.  Emergency Medical Services paramedic, Stacy Yoshikawa, a supervisor at the Hawai’i Kai station, took over, inserting a tube into the patient’s windpipe and administering intravenous medications.

Credit Wayne Yoshioka
EMS paramedic supervisor, Stacy Yoshikawa, administered advanced life support

“I came in when Ocean Safety had already obtained a pulse and the patient was breathing.  And, I came in to basically secure his airway and monitor him and make sure that he gets to the hospital in the same shape I found him in or even better.”


Meanwhile, Ocean Safety Lieutenant, Kawika Eckhart, gathered Gambone’s belongings at Hanauma Bay looking for identification.  He also helped Gambone’s wife, Marilyn, get to the E-R.


“We put her inside the Ocean Safety truck and drove her to the top of the hill in the parking lot and we just called Uber.  Uber was there in a minute and really quick.  We got her situated in the Uber, make sure he knew where she needed to go and best wishes.  And look how it came out.”


Credit Wayne Yoshioka
Jim Howe, director, Emergency Services Department

Emergency Services Department director, Jim Howe, said it was a team effort by Ocean Safety, E-M-S paramedics, Honolulu firefighters, and the Queens Medical staff.   But, he praised lifeguard Bradshaw for being observant and responding quickly.


“If you no see ‘um, you no get ‘um.  And Elizabeth saw this happening and it was her ability to recognize that Mr. Gambone was having distress even before maybe he even recognized it.  And already reacted, then responded so that by the time she arrived there, she was able to bring this to fruition and so, congratulations.”


Credit Wayne Yoshioka
Queen's Medical Center chief of emergency medicine, Howie Klemmer

Queen’s Medical Center chief of emergency medicine, Dr. Howie Klemmer, said the risk of brain injury due to lack of oxygen is the primary concern following cardiac arrest.


“They’ve got about a minute or two before they need CPR.  Nowadays with high performance CPR and advanced life support, they can take quite a while to get to us.”


Gambone thanked all of the first responders for saving his life.  He and his wife will be reunited with their 3 children and grandchildren.


“My wife’s been after me to retire for years.  I wanna work.  But, I’ve decided that I will go back to Texas and I am going to retire, yeah.”


For HPR News, I’m Wayne Yoshioka.

Wayne Yoshioka
Wayne Yoshioka is an award-winning journalist who has worked in television, print and radio in Hawaiʻi. He also has been on both sides of politics as a state departmental appointee and political/government reporter. He covered Hurricane Iwa (1982) as a TV reporter; was the State Department of Defense/Civil Defense spokesperson for Hurricane Iniki (1992); and, commanded a public affairs detachment in Afghanistan (2006). He has a master's degree in Communication from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa and is a decorated combat veteran (Legion of Merit, Bronze Star and 22 other commendation/service medals). He resides in Honolulu.
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