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  • Writer's pictureVolume 82 Magazine

Doctors Vacationing on Florida Beach Saved Teen's Life After Shark Attack

Doctors vacationing at a Florida beach spotted a shark attack and took action. Hillary Andrews for FOX Weather reported the following story about the incident:

Two doctors vacationing with their families at a Florida beach this past weekend rushed to help a teen shark attack victim and likely saved her life.

Three people were attacked by sharks along the Florida Panhandle on Friday. Dr. Ryan Forbess, a family medicine practitioner who was visiting from Alabama, said he was enjoying time in the water with his son at Seacrest Beach in Walton County when he heard a commotion.

"Me and Doctor Ali, we've been friends for years, and we vacation on that beach almost every year together," Forbess said. "I was boogie boarding with my son, and he was there boogie boarding with his daughter, and then, all of a sudden, we heard some screams with emotions over to our left."

People were yelling to get out of the water, he said. He and his friend, Dr. Muhammed Ali, an interventional radiologist, immediately thought there was a shark in the water but not an attack, much less two.

"I just grabbed my son. He grabbed his daughter, and we started running to the beach," Forbess said. "It was a little scary thinking that something's going on, and then I looked, as I'm running up to the beach, and I see blood in the water."

Life-threatening injuries

The 15-year-old girl and her 17-year-old friend were in waist-deep water when the shark attacked just 30 yards away from where the doctors and their kids had been. One had life-threatening injuries. She lost a hand and part of her leg. The other had foot injuries that the Walton Fire District Chief called "flesh wounds" in a press conference.

The doctors dropped the children with their wives and younger children and rushed to a group of people, pulling the seriously injured girl out of the water. 

"We saw the level of the injuries, and we knew that anybody with any medical knowledge needs to jump in," Forbess said. "We were able to, at that point, to start treatment, holding pressure where we needed to, starting tourniquets, basically advanced trauma care at that point, trying to get her stable." 

Two emergency room nurses and an EMT joined the makeshift medical team. They were all vacationing, too. Forbess called the injuries "horrific." Beach eyewitnesses found items to use for tourniquets and to apply pressure.

"I do think that it was kind of the grace of God that we had a medical team of people there," he said about the vacationing strangers. "And I felt we worked well together. We felt like we had been working together for years."

Paramedics arrived, and the victims were airlifted to a hospital. Forbess said the critically wounded girl had lost two-thirds of her blood and would likely have died without immediate action by the doctors and nurses.

Victim in stable condition

Later, Forbess checked in with his office manager by phone. She asked how his day off was.

"And I was like, 'Well, there was a huge event on the beach,' and she's like, 'Oh my God! That was you guys?'" said Forbess.

She just happened to be across the street from the hospital where emergency crews took the girl. The manager had an event.

The girl's mother welcomed the manager into the hospital room, and they called Forbess.

"She was telling me how thankful she was, but again, it was a team effort with everybody," he said. "And I was just, it was grateful to hear that she survived." 

(This is an original story from Fox Weather).

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