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.
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.”
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.
“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.”
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.”
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.