LOTHIAN, MD — While Calvert County EMT Thomas Molino says he has little memory of being rescued last week when his kayak overturned in the frigid waters of the Chesapeake Bay, the nineteen-year-old does recall seeing the familiar faces of his fellow emergency workers when being pulled from the water and transported to a local hospital for treatment.
Molino says that he and his friend, Emily Noble, had purchased kayaks about one week prior to the accident, and had planned to test them out in the creek near Noble’s home in Deale, MD. Although a windy day, Molino says the water did not appear to be rough. However, Molino and Noble found themselves about 1,000 feet from shore when the waves picked up, causing Molino’s kayak to overturn.
“The second I hit the water, I realized that it was very cold, and that I didn’t have long until I had to get back out,” said Molino, who has served as a volunteer EMT for three years and treated multiple hypothermia victims.
After flipping the kayak back over and attempting to stop it from sinking by removing the water that had gathered inside with his shoes, Molino says he began to realize he was too heavy to get back into the vessel and asked Noble to call 911.
“It was a scary experience having your best friend in the water and not knowing what was going to happen,” said Noble. ”I just knew I had to hold on to him no matter what and stay calm.”
According to Molino, Noble was on the phone with the 911 dispatcher for nearly forty minutes before the rescue boat arrived. Once pulled on board the fireboat, Molino says he knew he would survive, but was concerned about the severity of his hypothermia. After being taken to shore and administered warm IV fluids by paramedics, Molino was transferred to the hospital and released later that evening.
As an EMT, Molino says he had a good understanding of the rescue process throughout his experience, recalling hearing updates about which units were coming to assist him and when they would arrive, and feeling at ease with the process. When he arrived on shore, Molino says he recognized many familiar faces in the crowd of rescue personnel and felt comforted that they also recognized him.
Because he knows firsthand how much it means to an emergency response worker to receive a “thank you” from someone they’ve rescued, Molino says he plans to write letters to each of the companies who responded to his call, as well as to take coffee and donuts to the dispatcher who handled Noble’s 911 call for help.
“It makes all the difference in the world to know you are appreciated for your service,” said Molino. ”I plan on letting each of them know that I fully realize I shouldn’t be alive and that I am only because of what they did for me.”
In the week since his accident, Molino has returned to the firehouse where he volunteers, with doctor’s orders to take things slowly. While anxious to return to saving lives, Molino says he is not planning to continue kayaking, and has made arrangements to sell his kayak to a friend.