Rescue Lines – Spring 2016 – Daring Sandbridge Rescue Highlights the Power of Preparation

CoverStory1Everything happened so fast, Darrell Orsak barely had time to think. That’s when his training kicked in.

For three Virginia Beach emergency responders, they’re sure glad he did.

On September 27, 2015, the VB EMS Marine Rescue Team received a call about a possible drowning in Sandbridge. By the time they arrived, they found three emergency personnel being pulled out to sea in the rip current.

The trio entered the water hoping to save a man who had been swept up in the strong current and eight to ten-foot seas. Among the three was EMS volunteer and lifeguard Barry Kirschner, who was last to enter the water to assist the other two – a police officer and a firefighter.

CoverStory2Despite their best efforts, the man died in the rough surf; and suddenly, the three responders found themselves fighting for their lives.

That’s when Darrell, a swimmer on the Marine Rescue Team, alertly tied a rope around his chest, threw the other end to follow MRT member Scott Lepper, who was assisting on shore and swam out to rescue the three men. They were more than 300 feet out to sea, and it was a struggle simply to make it there.

Barry tossed Darrell his red rescue can – or what the team calls the “David Hasselhoff ” because of its prominence on the show “Baywatch” – for everyone to hold onto as they were pulled back to shore.

The loss of life was extremely tragic, but the situation could have been much worse had it not been for the split- second decisions made by Darrell and the other first responders. In fact, Barry Kirschner’s selfless act kept everyone afloat until more help arrived.

“Darrell is a true hero,” said Jim Rose, Captain of the VB EMS Marine Rescue Team. “He had the foresight to tie the rope around himself before going into the water. That preparation is exactly what we preach and train all the time, and in this case, along with teamwork, it made the difference.”

© 2020 Virginia Beach Rescue Squad Foundation