As Seen in Equipped for Care – Close Call at the Beach

Close Call at the Beach

It was supposed to be a fun day at the ocean when Stephanie Lapensee went to Huntington Beach one sunny day in August. She frolicked with her friend and then walked to the shoreline to collect shells.

“Thanks to the rapid response of Shane Kohls and the high level of care delivered by the team at Fountain Valley Regional Hospital, Stephanie’s long-term prognosis is very good”

That’s the last thing Stephanie remembers of the day’s outing. Shane Kohls was also at Huntington Beach that day, with his wife and seven month- old son. An off-duty firefighter for the City of Anaheim, Kohls had just finished surfing and was walking back towards his family. He noticed a girl who he thought was playing at the water’s edge. But as he got closer, Kohls realized that the girl’s limp body was being buffeted by the incoming waves. He turned her over and saw that her face was blue. After confirming that she wasn’t breathing and didn’t have a pulse, Kohls started administering CPR and told his wife to alert a lifeguard.

Lifeguards quickly rushed to the scene, where Kohls helped them administer oxygen, secure Stephanie on a stretcher and load her into an ambulance. She was taken to the nearest hospital, but it did not have a pediatric department. So the ER physicians there called Fountain Valley Regional Hospital and consulted with Zacharia Reda, M.D., Director of the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU), while they performed several tests on Stephanie.

“When we received the call from the referring hospital, we were very concerned about her outcome,” recalls Dr. Reda. “She had undergone full cardiac arrest, and the first 72 hours are critical in terms of long-term consequences.”
Once Stephanie was stabilized, Fountain Valley Regional Hospital’s pediatric transport team traveled by ambulance to bring her to the hospital. She had a high fever and was vomiting when she arrived, and was immediately placed in the PICU under Dr. Reda’s care.
For the next five days, Stephanie underwent a comprehensive work-up involving a pediatric neurologist, cardiologist and infectious diseases physician. It was determined that she had experienced a seizure on the beach, which was caused by either a viral infection or a mild case of encephalitis.

“Thanks to the rapid response of Shane Kohls and the high level of care delivered by the team at Fountain Valley Regional Hospital, Stephanie’s long-term prognosis is very good,” says Dr. Reda.

“Everyone was wonderful,” says Stephanie’s mom, Tricia, who remained with her daughter throughout her hospital stay. “All the doctors explained what they were doing and why. And her nurses were so kind and made her laugh.”

Now, Stephanie is busy with school, her rock collection, and the family pets — a dog, a fish and a chicken.
Tricia, who wasn’t at the beach that fateful day, knows that the outcome might have been much different if someone who knew CPR hadn’t been nearby to assist her daughter. “I’m fortunate she’s still here,” she says.

In addition to its Pediatric ICU, Fountain Valley Regional Hospital has a full array of pediatric services, including neurosurgery, nephrology and oncology. For more information, please call (800) 398-5734, or visit us on the web at

Disclaimer: This testimonial reflects results achieved by this patient. As each case is different and must be independently evaluated and managed, actual outcomes will vary.