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First responders traverse ocean overwash on NC 12 to get child to hospital

“She’s okay. She’s doing very well,” said Kelly Collins, mother of three-year old Lou Collins, on Wednesday while recounting the medical emergency her child experienced in the beginning of the week and the group of people who worked together to get her the help she needed.

The family group – including eight kids and seven adults – is vacationing in Hatteras village. Having traveled from Lewisburg, WV, this is their second time visiting the area; they stayed in Frisco during their last visit.

On Monday morning, Lou had a severe allergic reaction to an antibiotic. She had hives and her entire body was swelling. Her eyes were closing, said her mother.

Lou needed to get to the hospital Nags Head, but the water was deep on sections of NC 12 between Hatteras and Frisco and in Avon and completely closed from Rodanthe to the Marc Basnight Bridge over Oregon Inlet due to sand and ocean overwash.

An Emergency Medical Services crew from Buxton picked up Lou and Kelly and headed north in a four-wheel drive ambulance to the Chicamacomico Banks Volunteer Fire and Rescue station in Rodanthe. EMS Lt. Erika Griffin coordinated the transport with Fire Chief Mike Daugherty. On the EMS crew were David Hooks and Bonnie Rowe.

The two EMS crew members, Lou and Kelly rode in the back transport area along with another patient. The transport area has three benches and is covered with canvas on the top and sides and with a back covering that can be rolled down.

Daugherty drove the great big 5-ton military vehicle on the Monday morning mission through Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge.

Another EMS crew, Caity Washam and Dale James, picked up Lou and her mom on the south side of the Basnight Bridge, in the turn area that goes to the fishing area. That’s where all the runs in the 5-ton vehicle end.

At The Outer Banks Hospital, Lou was treated in the Emergency Room and released Monday. “We had nowhere to stay, no car seat, no clothes” after they were released, Kelly stated.

Hospital nurses called friends and family and located a car seat, called a hotel and helped arrange for a vehicle. On Monday night, another trip to the hospital was required.

But late Tuesday afternoon around 5 p.m., Kelly’s cousin took Lou and Kelly to meet Daugherty for a trip back through Pea Island. Kelly and Lou returned to Hatteras village.

“No one had to go above and beyond . . . But every single one of these folks did, and they saved my daughter’s life . . . we will forever be grateful,” Kelly wrote in a Facebook post.

pea island

Chicamacomico Banks Volunteer Fire and Rescue’s 5-ton military transport vehicle has served as an emergency ambulance during the NC 12 closure in Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge. Tim Fitch, shown here with a handful of seaweed, helped Fire Chief Mike Daugherty wash sand off the truck Wednesday afternoon, Sept. 23. This is the vehicle that took three-year old Lou Collins through Pea Island to the south side of the bridge over Oregon Inlet Monday morning, Sept. 21, 2020. On Tuesday afternoon, Lou was thrilled to ride up front in the big truck. Mary Helen Goodloe-Murphy photo

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