Local captain honored for lifesaving act

Mon, 01/27/2020 - 10:15am

A local captain has been honored by two separate marine organizations for his contribution to a lifesaving effort on the Great Salt Pond last summer.

Capt. Bob DiSanto was cited by TowBoatUS, a boat towing service, and the marine assistance lobbying group C-PORT when he helped save an unresponsive elderly couple on their boat on Sunday, Aug. 18.

“I was flown down for the C-PORT award by my company, which is SafeSea, and I was quite honored. It’s one thing to go out and do what I do, but when your peers see what you do and give you an ward for it, it kind of validates everything else,” DiSanto said. Only two others were honored with that particular award this year, he said, “so it’s not like it’s happening all the time.”

The TowBoatUS award was announced on Jan. 27.

DiSanto has some personal history on the island.

“I have special place in my heart for Block Island. I was a trumpet player at the Yellow Kittens on New Years Eve 2000 and on the way home from playing the gig I met my wife on the ferry. We got married at the 1661 Inn. We’re celebrating 20 years this year. So me getting the station on Block Island for the summer is something,” he said. “I love it and love helping the people as much as I can. I’ve worked great with (outgoing Harbormaster) Steve Land and Kate (McConville) and look forward to doing it again this summer.”

According The Block Island Times report published last year: “On Sunday, Aug. 18, members of the Harbors and the Block Island Volunteer Fire and Rescue Departments received a call from a boat in distress, with two unresponsive individuals with carbon monoxide poisoning. Kate McConville, Nick, Phillips, Gary Ryan, and Shannon McKeon were in the office when the calls were made.

“McConville said that Bob DiSanto, who runs the Safe/Sea tow boat in the harbor, heard the distress call over the radio. Safe/Sea is a private company providing marine assistance to the Harbors Department. McConville said DiSanto is known as the “Cardinal” on the Great Salt Pond. “He truly is part of the Harbors family,” she said.

“With first responders, Capt. DiSanto raced to the scene of a double carbon monoxide poisoning, then safely put the subject vessel into a hip tow, quickly returning the injured to port for awaiting medical assistance.

“Ryan continued: “I jumped on the stern of the boat and saw two people in the cabin who were unresponsive. I pulled patient number one out of the cabin and could not find a pulse. I went back to the cabin and pulled out patient number two, also unresponsive. When I dragged this patient out, they had a pulse, a good radial pulse. Patient number two’s respiration was rapid and shallow.” When Ryan checked back in with patient number one he found a pulse. Patient one also started breathing, but it was also rapid and shallow.

“At that particular point we were towed in,” said Ryan, all the while monitoring the patients. “No patient needed medical attention. Both were breathing, both had heart rates. When we got to the dock we immediately got them oxygen, we didn’t even have to ask for the bottle, and off the boat and into the ambulance.”

“That all took less than 10 minutes,” said McConville. “To the tie-up to the dock — less than 10 minutes.” McConville received the initial call at 13:05 and the patients were on the ambulance by 13:15.”