Vacationing nurse from High Point helps save near-drowning victim at beach

Jul. 29, 2013 @ 05:18 PM

Kimberly Meyran hadn’t planned on using her nursing skills during her vacation, but a Beaufort man is no doubt glad she did.
Meyran, a nurse from High Point, helped perform CPR on the unconscious 35-year-old man after he nearly drowned Saturday afternoon at Atlantic Beach’s Fort Macon State Park. Officials there said Meyran’s quick response likely saved the man’s life.
“It was just instinct,” said Meyran, who works in the Neuroscience ICU at Moses H. Cone Memorial Hospital in Greensboro. “I felt like I was at the hospital.”
Meyran had been sunbathing on the shore — she and four of her girlfriends, all of them 2007 graduates of Wesleyan Christian Academy, were on their annual beach trip together — but she jumped into action when she saw a man lying on the sand, surrounded by a small crowd of frantic-looking people.
“I think I’ll go see if they need some help,” Meyran told one of her girlfriends as she scrambled to her feet.
When she reached the scene, a young lifeguard had the man on his side; seawater was gushing from the victim’s mouth.
“I think he had aspirated from drowning — he had a bunch of fluid in his lungs,” Meyran said. “I asked the lifeguard if he had checked for a pulse yet, and he hadn’t, so I checked for a pulse and he didn’t have one. I said, ‘We need to start CPR now.’”
About that time, Meyran’s best friend — Madison Parker, who also lives in High Point and is a nurse at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem — arrived on the scene, having come in from the waves to see what was going on.
“The lifeguard was kinda young and seemed totally freaked out, and Kimberly just kinda took over,” Parker recalled. “She started doing compressions and was able to get a pulse after two rounds of compressions.”
As Meyran did the compressions, the lifeguard breathed air into the victim’s lungs. A physician and paramedic who had been on the beach also assisted until first responders from the Atlantic Beach Fire Department arrived and took over.
The victim, whose name still had not been released Monday afternoon, was taken to Carteret General Hospital, then transported to Vidant Medical Center in Greenville. He was listed in serious condition Monday, according to coastal media reports.
Officials aren’t sure what happened to the man in the water — the ocean was relatively calm that day, they reported — but they said he was lucky it happened near Meyran, who knew just what to do.
“Immediate CPR on anybody this happens to is very critical and can be a matter of life and death,” said Capt. Kevin White of the Atlantic Beach Fire Department, who was the shift captain during Saturday’s incident.
“In the few minutes it takes us to respond to that area, without blood flow and oxygen to the victim’s system, cells start dying and the victim can die. But if CPR is started immediately, as it was in this case, that greatly increases the chance of survival.”
Parker, who helped comfort a distraught woman believed to be the victim’s girlfriend, said she was awestruck watching Meyran save the victim’s life.
“It’s normal for us to do this in the hospital,” Parker said, “but it’s different when it happens like it did this time. It’s awesome to watch your best friend truly save somebody’s life.”
jtomlin@hpe.com | 888-3579