VENTNOR – The Board of Commissioner Thursday, Aug. 8 honored two local teens for their quick actions that saved the life of one of the teen’s father on a hot summer Friday in July.
Lauren Merlino, 15, a junior at Atlantic City High School, and her friend Julia Logue, 16, also a junior, received certificates from Mayor Beth Holtzman who noted each girl performed their lifesaving actions without hesitation. Their quick action saved the life of Lauren’s father, Nicholas Merlino, 50, who was having a diabetic seizure while swimming in his backyard pool around 4:45 p.m. on July 26.
Nicholas Merlino, an iron worker who was diagnosed with Type I diabetes at age 29, wears an insulin pump, but the sensor that goes under his skin was not working properly and a new one was delivered that day, his wife Abra said. His plan was to go to the gym, then bathe before inserting the new sensor, she said. He worked out on the elliptical machine for about 50 minutes, during which time his blood sugar dropped dangerously low.
“All he could think of was that he was hot, hot, hot,” Abra Merlino said.
As he got into the pool, his blood sugar dropped even lower and he started to experience a seizure. Lauren Merlino had just gotten home and was in her room looking out the window when she noticed her dad was “acting goofy,” which is not unusual, Abra Merlino said.
Taking a second look seconds later, Lauren Merlino realized something serious was happening and she rushed to the pool. As she attempted to lift him out of the pool, she shouted to her friend to call 9-1-1.
“What we have here is two girls who were experienced,” said Abra Merlino, 44, who performs reiki therapy at Swift Studio in Ventnor. “Lauren with the effects of low blood sugar and Julia with calling 9-1-1.”
Logue had called 9-1-1 on two other occasions – once for a family member at age 9, and another time when she saw someone struggling while swimming in the back bay.
Abra Merlino arrived home four minutes later, noticed the emergency vehicles approaching her home, and saw Logue yelling to EMTs, “He’s in the backyard.”
“I immediately ran to the backyard and jumped into the pool to help pull him out of the water. I instinctively knew it was his blood sugar,” she said.
After a few sips of orange juice and administration of dextrose by the EMTs, he started to revive and was taken to the hospital where it took several hours for his blood sugar to rise to a reading of 50, still awfully low for a diabetic. He was checked for fluid in his lungs, which turned out to be negative, and his blood sugar continued to rise to normal levels. He was released but was monitored for 24 hours.
It took a few days for Nicholas Merlino to feel normal again, Abra Merlino said.
As far as the girls go, they both feel as though they did what anyone else would do in a similar situation and have unsuccessfully tried to stay out of the limelight, Abra Merlino said. They were the subject of a story on regional television news station, and home security videos of the event were posted online.
“They didn’t want all the attention, but we are all very happy that they were there for him,” Abra Merlino said. “We could have lost him in a matter of seconds if they didn’t notice what was happening and he went under.”
Abra Merlino said her husband is extremely grateful and feels “indebted” to the girls, she said.
“He knows now that he has to be more conscientious about his diabetes and always wear his sensor,” she said.