Off duty lifeguard saves boys life

18 Jul 2000 | Lance Cpl. Zachary A. Crawford

After the brave rescue of three children made by Sgt. Ryan Feder, another Marine lifeguard saved the life of a 7-year-old boy at Onslow Beach 18 July; on his day off.

"I was at the beach with my friends on my day off and we were just swimming around in the ocean," said Lance Cpl Joao C.M. Cabral, lifeguard at Onslow Beach. "I was the last one to leave the water behind the rest of my friends and I saw a yellow face mask in the water and then there was a little kid's hand."

Apparently, Cabral had come across a little boy who had started to drown face up in the water.

"After I saw him, I brought him to shore while keeping his head above water," said Cabral. "The boy had a pulse but was not breathing and he had foam coming from his mouth and nose. I then cleared his airway, gave him a couple of breaths and performed abdominal thrusts."

By the time Cabral got the boy to shore, his mother was there waiting for them.

"After the second set of abdominal thrusts, the boy then threw up some water," said Cabral. "After he got all of the water out, he started to cry; and for me, that was a very good sign."

After Cabral had revived the boy, his friends went to get some towels to keep the boy warm until the emergency crew came. Then the boy went into shock.

"The boy had started going into shock right when the emergency crew showed up to take over," said Cabral. "They then took him to the Naval Hospital to get him checked out."

Cabral went to the hospital that same day after the incident happened, and talked with the mother and visited with the boy.

"She was very grateful that I was there and simply thanked me for saving her son's life," said Cabral.

Although he was in the right place at the right time and he had done something truly heroic, he wishes parents would realize the dangers of swimming in the ocean.

"It does not matter how strong or experienced you are when it comes to handling tides and waves," said Cabral. "I came from a recon unit and even the most experienced swimmers can have trouble out there. It only takes a second for something to happen."

Cabral also wanted to emphasize to parents exactly what the job of a lifeguard is.

"Parents have to know that we are not babysitters, we are there to help in case of an emergency," said Cabral. "As lifeguards, we have to watch over 100 to 150 people at one time, parents only have to watch after and be responsible for two or three kids at a time."

"Since the kid is alive, that is all that matters to me," he concluded. "I only did what I was supposed to do."