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First responders work together to rescue a swimmer in Corolla

The afternoon of October 13, 2020, members of Currituck County Fire-EMS assigned to Station 6 – C shift and Corolla Ocean Rescue were dispatched to two swimmers in distress off the Dolphin St. beach access in the Whalehead area.

Engine 61 and Medic 6 responded and were first on scene. Upon arrival, one swimmer had made it to shore safely and exited the water. Firefighter/paramedic Trey Crawford spotted the other victim approximately 200 yards off shore battling strong waves and a rip current.

Currituck County Professional Fire Fighters EMS IAFF Local 4633 member Lt. Michael Lane, trained in water rescue, made the decision to enter the water prior to Ocean Rescue’s arrival. Crawford established command and managed the chaotic scene. Firefighter/paramedic Cody Cornelius assumed the role of spotter, advising Lane as to where to enter the water using the rip current as a guide.

Shortly after Lane entered the water, lifeguards from Corolla Ocean Rescue arrived and one entered the water to assist. Lane and the Corolla Ocean Rescue lifeguard were able to quickly reach the victim and bring him safely to shore.

Over the past two years, Currituck County Fire-EMS has, in cooperation with Corolla Ocean Rescue, organized, trained and executed a Rescue Swimmer Program that helps supplement Corolla Ocean Rescue, especially during the off season. Corolla Ocean Rescue fully staffs lifeguard stands with trained lifeguards Memorial Day through Labor Day and reduced stands and staffing until Columbus Day. Corolla Ocean Rescue responds with Currituck Fire-EMS on water rescue calls year round on both the ocean- and sound-side of the Currituck Outer Banks.

This marks the first incident in Currituck County, since the program’s inception, where members from the Fire-EMS division put their training to work with a very successful outcome.

When asked about the Incident, Lane said “It was a team effort all the way around, from FF/P Cornelius’ spotting, FF/P Crawford’s handling of command and the arrival of Corolla Ocean Rescue, it was an overwhelming success.”

Currituck County Fire-EMS Fire Chief Ralph Melton has been very supportive in the efforts of the Fire-EMS staff. Corolla Ocean Rescue’s knowledge and abilities have been immeasurable in helping the Fire-EMS division grow in providing this important service to the citizens and visitors of the Currituck Outer Banks.

– Submitted by Currituck County Professional Fire Fighters Ems IAFF Local 4633

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