NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

August 1, 2013

Nurse saves teen from drowning

By Dave Rogers
staff writer

---- — PLUM ISLAND — Not breathing, a 14-year-old girl was pulled out of the ocean yesterday around 3 p.m., but she was likely saved after a nurse sunbathing yards away rushed over and performed mouth-to-mouth resuscitation until she began breathing on her own.

According to the nurse, Newburyport resident Dixie Patterson, the young teen was pulled onto a section of the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge beach by two adults, one of whom yelled out for anyone who knew CPR. Patterson, who had been at the beach with her friend’s two children and their grandmother, rushed to the scene. Immediately, Patterson could tell that the girl was not breathing judging in part by her blue lips, eyes and nose.

“She clearly had no color,” Patterson said.

Thankfully, the teen had a pulse, meaning she wasn’t in cardiac arrest. That prompted Patterson to lay her down and breathe into her mouth several times until the girl began breathing on her own. Moments later, Byfield and Newbury emergency personnel responded to refuge Parking Lot 1 and brought her to an awaiting ambulance. A reporter at the scene could clearly see the girl crying loudly as she was wheeled into the ambulance; a woman, likely her mother, was by her side.

Newbury police Deputy Chief John Lucey Jr. said the girl was transported to Anna Jaques Hospital in Newburyport, where she was expected to make a full recovery.

“She’s very, very lucky and she’s going to be OK,” Lucey said, adding Patterson’s actions saved her life.

Lucey said he had no information regarding where the victim lives.

According to Patterson, the victim’s mother told rescue personnel her daughter probably suffered a seizure while swimming and collapsed. She was likely in the water for about a minute before she was spotted and dragged out of the ocean. Because the young teen was in the water for such a short period, Patterson said she believes she will make a full recovery.

“She wasn’t down long,” Patterson said.

Patterson, who had been at the beach since 11:30 a.m., remarked she was merely in the right place at the right time, and once she heard the call for help, did what she was trained to do as a cardiac surgery physician’s assistant. She works at North Shore Medical Center in Salem.

Patterson’s instincts were on display last April when she was one of the first emergency personnel to race to the aid of those injured in the Boston Marathon bombings. Patterson, along with two of her Newburyport friends, Courtney Luck and Dr. Jennifer Finch, were stationed inside the Marathon’s medical tent when two bombs were detonated within a minute of each other, killing three people and wounding hundreds more. Without thought for their own safety, the trio, along with dozens of EMTs, paramedics, doctors, nurses, firefighters and police officers, rushed into the chaos to aid the injured.