VENICE (CBSLA.com) — A Venice Beach doctor who was struck by lightning says learning CPR can save a life.
Dr. Robert Kilroy was one of 13 victims of a sudden and severe lightning storm on July 27, when beach goers enjoying a hot and sunny day were suddenly surrounded by lightning strikes and very loud thunder.
Kilroy, 56, was surfing with his 15-year-old daughter, Emily, who in that moment became his rescuer.
“Saw me floating and regardless of everything that happened, in that moment, turned around and charged right back out into the water, grabbing me,” Kilroy said.
Los Angeles County lifeguards sprang into action, pulling swimmers out of the water and blocking off beach access. Firefighters descended on the beach in a mass casualty response. Of the 13 people struck by lightning, 20-year-old Nick Fagnano died of his injuries at a hospital.
Pulling her father, whose heart had stopped and was not breathing, out of the water was a profound experience for Emily.
“It’s just really the most meaningful thing that’s ever happened in my life,” she said.
The experience led Kilroy to join firefighters, lifeguards, and doctors and nurses from Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center to share his story and stress the importance of learning CPR.
“And then to feel for a pulse and to feel a pulse was so amazing,” a lifeguard said.
The chances of getting struck by lightning this year are close to one in a million. But for that “lucky” person, the chances of survival go up if someone nearby knows CPR.
“It really underscores the need for everyone to learn CPR, learn how to use a defibrillator, because you never know,” said Dr. Marc Eckstein, medical director of the Los Angeles Fire Department.