In her 11 years as an emergency services paramedic, Marie Hildreth has seen all sorts of trauma up close and personal.
On Sunday, she and her family were enjoying the surf at Oak Island, North Carolina, when her instincts and training kicked in. A 12-year-old girl had just been pulled out of the water after being bitten by a shark.
Hildreth, who works at Novant Health in Charlotte but was vacationing at the beach with her family, approached the girl to help and what she saw surprised her. “It was much worse than I expected,” she said.
Reflexively, Hildreth sprang into action. Using materials gathered from the scene, she made a tourniquet to stop the bleeding on the girl’s arm and another one for her leg. “It was pretty bad arterial bleeding.”
Someone handed her an IV, which she used on the girl. Hildreth had dealt with animal attacks before but never one involving a shark.
But her experience on the streets paid off at the beach. “Nothing goes by the book,” she said. “I knew what needed to be done and just did it.”
With the help of her younger brother, who is an aspiring Charlotte firefighter, and her brother-in-law, a Maryland police officer, Hildreth helped stop the bleeding until the local emergency services arrived on the scene.
No doubt Hildreth helped the girl stay alive until help arrived.