By Zach Giroux for The Island Eye News
After being told there was a 45-minute wait at Mex 1 Coastal Cantina on Sullivan’s Island, Claudia Franklin and her family decided to dine across the street at Poe’s Tavern when a table became available. It was around 7 p.m., at the peak of the Friday night summer dinner rush on July 24.
Franklin, a mother of three and a 25-year-old registered nurse in her second year at Wake Forest Baptist Health at the High Point Medical Center in North Carolina, was on vacation but knew the barrier island “like the back of her hand” after visiting each year since she was a child.
Franklin recalled still having an alcoholic beverage in hand that she was unable to drink because it was from the previous restaurant. Five minutes later, her skills would be put to the ultimate test – a matter of life or death.
A grandmother who was watching her grandchildren play in Poe’s parking lot approached the patrons in a panic, screaming that her 3-yearold granddaughter looked like she had fallen asleep on the ground and was not breathing.
Franklin’s husband, Billy Franklin, turned to her and said “Claudia, go!”
She remembered seeing the child looking lifeless and completely blue. The following sequence of events, which spanned no more than a few minutes, felt like an eternity to Franklin. She went into a “tunnel vision,” a “blackout mode” that would require much of her nursing knowledge and muscle memory.
Throwing her slip-on heels to the side, she laid the child on her back in the gravel parking lot and began performing chest compressions. Of all the bystanders who stood frozen in shock, Franklin’s father stepped in to assist with CPR and administered breaths, despite the threat of COVID-19.
“Nobody thought twice about the virus,” Franklin said. “All we thought about was bringing the child back.”
The nurse directed her father to pour water on the child’s head to cool her body temperature on the humid evening. The child’s eyes began to flutter, but Franklin was not convinced she was fully revived.
At this point, she called upon strangers in the crowd to gather around to pray.
After a few short prayers, Franklin checked for and found the child’s pulse.
“Tears just started coming down my face,” Franklin said. “She’s a child in a diaper. I just don’t understand.”
EMS arrived on the scene minutes later and took the child to a nearby hospital for further examination.
After speaking with the child’s parents a week later, both of them physician assistants from Michigan, Franklin learned of the child’s episodes of febrile seizures.
She was informed the child is seeing a neurologist and doing well.
“It was a really emotional time for everybody,” Franklin said.
“The whole entire restaurant was in tears.”
On Aug. 18, the Sullivan’s Island Town Council recognized Franklin with a resolution applauding her heroic actions.
Mayor Pat O’Neil noted that a framed copy will be mailed to Franklin for personal display.
In addition to complimentary gift cards, Poe’s co-owner Riddick Lynch thanked Franklin for her lifesaving act.
“I was not there the day of the emergency, but I think we are all pretty fortunate that you were and acted so quickly and decisively,” he said.