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Good Samaritans rescue swamped kayakers off Annisquam


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(lyrics from John Prine's "The Accident (Things Could Be Worse)")

Nothing should be taken away from heroic individuals who do there level best to help others in need. Yet there's an important lesson here.

From the article "the men who went from wild cold to civilized heated water in a matter of minutes". As hypothermia sets in the body reduces or completely cuts off blood flow to the extremities. The resultant build-up of metabolic byproducts in the extermities are essentially toxins.

If someone is truly cold for a period of time they need to be warmed up slowly. If not, blood flow is rapidly restored to the extremities, the toxins are rapidly reduced into the victim. Heart attack and death are a common result. You may have read stories of persons plucked from the sea (or a similarly chilly environ) only to perish once brought inside a warm room/cabin, etc.

Preferred methods are (remove any wet clothing) wrapping the person in something dry that will retain their body heat, a great application for a "cag".

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The hypothermic victim should be handled very carefully with limited contact. Too much manipulation of the extremities sends cold blood and toxins to the heart resulting in devastating consequences to the heart.

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You may have to be a subscriber to access past issues. Anyway, here is the first article:

Good Samaritans rescue swamped kayakers off Annisquam

By Richard Gaines

Staff writer

Two young men whose kayaks swamped at the mouth of the Annisquam River yesterday afternoon were saved by two good Samaritans who hauled them into a small skiff, then raised their low body temperatures in a sauna.

The Coast Guard did not have the names of the two men. The police report was incomplete at press time.

David "Dirt" Murray, 51, a well-known Annisquam resident who operates a floating summer refreshment stand, Dirt's Dogs, from his 17-foot skiff, used it yesterday as a life-saving craft.

Murray said he raced from his River Road home to the skiff moored at the nearby Annisquam Market with friend and neighbor Doug Ritchie.

Ritchie deferred to Murray as the "commander-in-chief of the fantastic off-shore rescue."

He said he was chatting with Murray on the phone when a second call came in from another Murray friend, Joe Polizzia. He was calling with news heard on a police scanner of people in trouble at the mouth of the Annisquam River.

From the market where Murray's skiff was moored, they motored out to the sandbar at the mouth of the river, off Wingaersheek Beach, where the men were hanging on to their kayaks in heavy seas whipped up by northerly winds.

Waves were breaking over the sand bar in the late-afternoon high tide. The tide was too high for the men to stand up on the sandbar.

Murray and Ritchie were first on the scene about 4:30 p.m. Murray said he probably took 5 to 10 minutes to get to the sand bar. The harbormaster's skiff and the Coast Guard inflatable boat were not far behind, having had to come a longer distance up the length of the river from the Inner Harbor.

Both men were lifted into his skiff, and one was transferred to the harbormaster's boat to lighten Murray's load.

Ritchie said Murray wrapped one of the kayakers in a piece of rubber roofing he had on his skiff after transferring the other man to the harbormaster's boat.

The high tide allowed access to Murray's River Road dock.

"We threw them into the sauna to heat them up," he added. "They were very grateful. I just happened to have it lit. I'd just lit it up."

There they stayed together for what Murray estimated was 10 minutes until an ambulance took one of the kayakers, who was complaining of a headache, to Addison Gilbert Hospital. "The other one was there (in the sauna) for 40 minutes."

Then, he was taken home, Ritchie said, he believed by ambulance.

Neither Murray nor Ritchie said they ever got the names of the men who went from wild cold to civilized heated water in a matter of minutes.

On summer days, Murray tows out a float stocked with candy, food, drinks, water, and other refreshments, as well as gas-powered grills, skillets, boiling and steaming pots. He moors the float and the skiff off the Annisquam Yacht Club, from which point they provide or deliver.

"People have really appreciated our service," his wife, Gayle told Times columnist Peter Prybot four years ago near the start of the experiment in floating refreshment.

Here is the second article:

Student thought he was 'going to die' before rescuers arrived

By Richard Gaines

Staff writer

Dan Mura thought he was "going to die" while "screaming for help" from the mouth of the Annisquam River Sunday afternoon, along with his Endicott College pal, Andrew Nickerson, after their kayaks were swamped and they were dumped into heavy seas.

They'd been enjoying the day paddling on Ipswich Bay. They had started out from a house near Annisquam that Nickerson and three college friends rented for the fall and winter semesters. But, recalls Mura, "it got a little out of control" as the wind whipped up five-foot waves and both students found themselves in the 60-degree water screaming for help. "We were pretty far out," said Mura.

It was his first kayaking trip on the bay.

"My body was all numb," Mura said about his time in the water. He held the life vest in his teeth, and "I was biting hard. It seemed like an eternity, maybe 30 minutes."

That was when a 17-foot skiff approached, directed by Dave "Dirt" Murray, an Annisquam resident who knows the waters as well as anyone. He runs an informal ferry business based at the Annisquam Market and in the summer also operates a unique floating refreshment stand, Dirt's Dogs, in the calm waters around the Annisquam Yacht Club.

With Murray was his pal and Annisquam neighbor, Doug Ritchie.

Someone had heard Mura's and Nickerson's cries for help or seen the pair in peril, and called the police.

While Murray was chatting on the phone with Ritchie, another friend, Joe Polizzia, called to relay news he'd just heard on a scanner that two kayakers were floundering at the mouth of the river.

Murray and Ritchie rushed to Murray's boat and got to the struggling kayakers before the harbormaster's boat or Coast Guard's 23-foot inflatable, which were coming up the Annisquam River from the Inner Harbor.

"They picked Andrew up first, I was still in the water," said Mura, whose family lives in Auburn. "I had lost my pants."

Murray pulled Mura from the water near the sandbar that runs from Wingaersheek Beach out into the bay, which then was a roiling, gray chop. Onlookers from the beach and the Annisquam shore could barely see the red kayak — for split seconds at the tops of the swells — hundreds of yards away.

Murray transferred Nickerson to the harbormaster's boat to lighten his load, then both made a beeline for Murray's dock in Lobster Cove.

They deposited both young men into a sauna that Murray had fired up for a peaceful evening minutes before Polizzia's call came in.

"Even in the sauna I was cold," said Mura. "I was shivering."

An ambulance came and took him to Addison Gilbert Hospital where he was wrapped in blankets. At the hospital, he said, his temperature was 94 degrees. "They said I had a mild case of hypothermia," he said from the Beverly Farms campus yesterday afternoon.

He said he doesn't remember much conversation in Murray's skiff on the quick trip back to the dock and sauna. "They didn't say anything to me. I just thanked them, and thanked God for saving us."

Efforts to reach Nickerson, whose family lives in New Hampshire, were unsuccessful.

Liz N.

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