'TRULY A MIRACLE'
12-year-old boy alive and recovering after drowning in ocean
By AMANDA FRINK
MSNBC and Chinook Observer
8 August 2011
LONG BEACH In what some describe as a flat-out miracle, a 12-year-old boy who drowned in the surf off Cranberry beach approach Friday began speaking in a Portland hospital Monday, amazing his doctors.
Dale Ostrander was at the beach enjoying a picturesque day trip with the Bethel Baptist Church group from Spanaway. The surf was violently agitated and chaos was about to erupt as Dale and another boy got into deadly danger. They are alive today thanks to instantaneous heroism by a visiting girl, her dad and surf-rescue volunteers.
They just went for a day and were just getting in ankle- and knee-deep
it wasnt a swimming activity but he got sucked in, said Denise Minge, daughter-in-law of Bethel Baptist Pastor Terry Minge.
Less than an hour later, as nearly two dozen other church members prayed, cried and hugged one another on the beach, Dale was in a speeding ambulance being rushed to Ocean Beach Hospital. He wasnt breathing, had no pulse and was unresponsive for as much as 20 to 30 minutes. He was, by many definitions, dead.
Kissels to the rescue
Long Beach resident Shannon Kissel said Tuesday that he and his daughter Nicole usually take their boogie boards to Waikiki Beach, but they didnt want to buy a Discover Pass to get into the state park, so decided to try the waves near the Cranberry approach. They were catching a few waves Friday afternoon when the tide started to change, with the waves building on top of each other, getting stronger and stronger.
We noticed a large group of people to the south, and where they were at, it was shallower for a longer distance out, Kissel said. Something mustve happened where one of those waves came in and did a riptide. We kind of saw a group of people out there and we were thinking they were goofing off, but then my daughter swam out to them. I was yelling at her to get her attention, but she couldnt hear me
They werent far out, but it doesnt take very far out to get into trouble.
Kissel yelled to one boy, who was thrashing around in about chest-deep water, and asked if he was drowning, and he said that he was. The waves were going over the boys head when Kissel was able to get a hold of him and successfully bring him to shore, where he gave bystanders their location on the beach and told them to call 911.
In the meantime, 12-year-old Nicole paddled out to Ostrander, found out his name and age, and told him to keep kicking in order to stay afloat.
They were each others strengths to get back, Kissel explained.
In a comment posted on Observer photographer Damian Mulinixs Picture Window blog, Nicoles grandmother, Darlene Terry, said Nicole was in the water when she heard a cry for help and saw a boy far out in the surf, upon which she took her boogie board and swam out to help him.
She related that Nicole said that once she reached him, she placed him on her board, laid on top of him and grasped the sides of the board to secure him as they were hit by the waves and pulled out further into the water. It was when they were hit by a large wave that they were pushed down to the bottom, where the two kids lost hold of the board and each other. Nicole said she was able to grasp Ostranders arm and, by pushing off from the bottom, pulled him up to the surface. They both swam towards the boogie board, which was floating about 20 feet away from them toward the shore.
But as Nicole reached the board, she looked back and the boy was gone. Thats when Kissel was able to reach his daughter and bring her back to shore while another bystander took her boogie board in an attempt to find Ostrander. But the boy was still nowhere to be seen.
Volunteer rescuers dispatched
PCFD1 Fire Chief Brundage said his department was dispatched at 3:22 p.m., for a report of two swimmers in distress just north of the approach. The first responding unit arrived about six minutes later to find Shanon and Nicole Kissel and the other boy on shore with one swimmer still unaccounted for. South Pacific County Technical Rescue Team (SPCTR) responded with and deployed two watercraft with rescue swimmers.
The story I was told was that there was a bystander and his daughter who were boogie boarding and heard the two kids screaming for help, Brundage said Tuesday. They werent very far out, about 100 yards offshore at the most, still in the surf zone. But [the kids] were caught in a rip and were panicking, and he understood how to manage it, swim sideways, and get them to shore.
According to the Pacific County Sheriffs Office, Shanon Kissel was instrumental in saving the swimmers.
The sheriffs office, Long Beach Fire Department, Washington State Parks, SPCTR, and the Coast Guard, which happened to be conducting drills less than a mile offshore, also responded to assist with the effort.
The Coast Guard vessel dropped buoys to determine which direction the water was flowing. At least a dozen responders stood atop various vehicles including the Long Beach Volunteer Fire Departments brush truck hoping to spot Ostrander through their binoculars.
On the sand nearby were about 20 kids who had gathered into groups and clutching each other in prayer.
Though the outdoor temperature was a comfortable 65 degrees that afternoon, Doug Knutzen, who responded with SPCTR, presumed that the water temperature was in the mid-50 degree range. Water that temperature can lead to death from hypothermia within an hour. Hypothermia, which is a loss of core body temperature, can quickly result in confusion and loss of coordination, which lead to drowning.
Boy is found at last
Within about 10 minutes, Ostrander was located in the surf zone by SPCTR volunteers aboard a WaveRunner.
According to a report released by SPCTR, volunteer Eduardo Mendez spotted the boy partially submerged in the surf, deployed his rescue swimmer Will Green and together they made the pick up and returned the unconscious child to the beach.
They transferred the unconscious boy to medical personnel on-shore. For bystanders, the scene was grim, with no visible signs of movement or consciousness. But paramedics, kneeling in the sand, continued to work on reviving him for about another 10 minutes. Amid resuscitation efforts, Ostrander was loaded into an ambulance and transported to Ocean Beach Hospital with life-threatening conditions.
Medical responders were determined to not give up on him.
Its up to paramedic discretion, not every situation is exactly the same, they have to take all the pieces of the scene and of what happened to determine the extent of resuscitation efforts, explained Brundage, who was the incident commander at the scene. Its up to the paramedic to make the decision when to stop efforts, and in that criteria or that protocol, there is a point where the paramedic can choose to terminate efforts, but in this case, the paramedic chose to continue resuscitation efforts to the hospital.
I talked to my medic from that day and he said they didnt get any pulse in the back of the rig; they discovered a pulse after they arrived at the hospital.
Ostrander was later flown to Portland Childrens Hospital. (The other people involved in the emergency refused treatment and transport by medical personnel.)
Kept in induced coma
Since his hospitalization, a prayer blog has been set up on behalf of the boy and his family at http://prayersfordale.blogspot.com. Blog entries on Sunday stated, When he was found, he was unconscious and not breathing. Emergency personnel performed CPR on him and got a heartbeat and later got him to breathe on his own. At Portland Childrens Hospital, the boy was in a drug-induced coma while doctors kept his body temperature down to help with the brain swelling.
By Monday, Ostrander had opened his eyes.
The doctors just removed Dales breathing tube and he is now breathing on his own, the blog reported. Also, because of possible damage to the brain they were unsure if he would be able to speak. Minutes after the tube was removed, the doctors told him to cough. Not only did Dale talk back to the doctors, he responded in a full sentence saying, I dont have to. Dale continues to get better by the minute and the doctors are more and more amazed! God is good!
Believe me, people are praying all over the states and all over the world, said Denise Minge, who is maintaining the familys blog. God is truly working a miracle! I personally think hes showing off how powerful he is and proving that he is in control.
On Tuesday, the boys mother, Kirsten Ostrander, reported on the Picture Window blog that her son is doing miraculously well. He is improving every day, following commands, tracking with his eyes, and even talking some. Please continue to pray as he keeps fighting strong to recover. We appreciate all your prayers.
On a blog maintained by supporters, it was reported Tuesday, This morning at 8 oclock, he said Morning to his parents. He kept trying to get out of bed. When his dad told him that he cant get out of bed, he said very emphatically, Yes I can! Dales dad says that Dale is answering yes and no questions.
Working together for a miracle
This was truly a team effort, Brundage said of the rescue. Quickly finding the patients, our crews working on him and reviving him, the hospital stabilizing him and transferring him to a higher level facility, and the higher level facility continuing to provide a palette of care to preserve brain function, heart function, and specialists there to address any problems that come up. One hiccup in those steps probably wouldve yielded a different result.
Sometimes you just never know and thats why we go all out. And sometimes the patients outcome isnt positive, but in this case it was very positive.
This kind of surf rescue and how all the steps played out, this was certainly one in 100, he added. Its rare that we have such a successful outcome just because oftentimes drowning victims, when they come in, theyre dead. But it wasnt his time to go.
Upon hearing that the boy was alive, breathing on his own and even speaking, Kissel expressed much relief Tuesday and couldnt wait to tell Nicole, who was on a flight home to California.
It was quite the adrenaline rush, said Kissel, still hoarse from shouting over the crashing waves. And I feel like a frog.
*I was touched by this story. If you click on the link, you will see some photos of youth praying on their knees at the beach on behalf of this young man who drowned. Please continue to remember this boy and his family in your prayers.