Edgartown lifeguard and EMT Brooks Jordan was making breakfast at his home and preparing for his workday at State Beach Saturday morning when he was alerted to a swimming emergency at the Bend in the Road.
“I was in my kitchen cooking my bacon and getting ready to go out lifeguarding that day. My pager went off and I took a quick glance at it — it said there was a swimming incident with one person in the water,” Brooks told The Times. Brooks has been a lifeguard for five years, and it’s his second summer as an Edgartown EMT working with the Edgartown Fire Department.
With only an hour until he had to clock in that morning, he decided to respond to the scene immediately to provide support. “I thought ‘well, I am skilled, I am trained. I’ll go see what I can do to help,’” he said.
Upon arriving at the beach, Edgartown Fire Chief Alex Schaeffer was on the scene along with an Edgartown ambulance and police officers from both Edgartown and Oak Bluffs.
Brooks rushed to the trunk of his car to grab a spare rescue can, and headed down to the shoreline in his lifeguard gear. “I remember seeing Chief Schaeffer using binoculars to look out into the water. He saw one individual who was attempting to come back in, and as she was coming back in I ran out and asked if she needed any help,” Brooks said.
The woman wasn’t in distress, and as he was walking back, Brooks overheard Schaeffer dispatching the rescue boats to conduct a search for a lost dog. That’s when the focus shifted from person to puppy.
“Because it was really early in the morning, the reflection off the water made it very difficult to see, but about a few hundred yards away from the individual who was in the water, we saw a little dog paddling away,” Brooks said.
At this point, the harbormaster had arrived, and a good Samaritan was swimming out to the dog. Schaeffer told Brooks to grab the rescue board from the lifeguard stand. “I went out and the dog didn’t want to go on the board. We kind of swam side by side: me, the dog, and the good Samaritan swimmer,” he said.
Once on shore, the dog coughed up some water, and was happily reunited with its family.
The situation was resolved, and Brooks said he was relieved that the dog was located and everyone involved was safe. “The dog’s owners were so grateful. I just said ‘no worries,’ because if that was my dog, I would want to know that people would take that situation seriously in the same way,” Brooks said. “I went back to the beach after that to start my day of lifeguarding.”
A witness to the incident, who asked to remain anonymous, told The Times that she and her family were psyching themselves up to hop in the cold morning water when they heard a call for help. “We heard a cry, and it looked like someone was out in the water swimming. Then we saw someone else in the water, too. But it was just ‘help, help, help,’ so I ended up calling 911, because he just continued to call out,” the witness said. “We could see a head kind of bobbing up and down in the water, but then we didn’t see it for a while, so we started thinking ‘oh my God, somebody drowned.’”
But at that point, the family heard barking, and realized that it was a dog that was in distress.
Just as soon as they heard the barking, the witness said she saw Brooks race by with his rescue board and hop in the water. “He was the one who really saved the day. He was running a mile a minute, jumped in the water, and got the dog and brought it back in,” she said. “It was a moment of excitement and relief on an early morning beach day.”