On a hot and humid Friday afternoon, Pfc. Dalton Beals needed medical attention during brutal final training exercises at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, known as Crucible. But he wasn’t the only one.
In five frantic 911 calls for help Beaufort County received on June 4 between 3:39 p.m. and 5:14 p.m., at least two other Marines were also suffering from heat injuries, records show. They survived.
Beals, a 19-year-old from Pennsville, New Jersey, could not be resuscitated.
Multiple investigations are now underway into Beals’ death – and the safety of Crucible, a 54-hour training exercise that tests the courage of recruits before they become Marines and graduate.
The Island Packet and Beaufort Gazette have requested 911 transcripts and audio recordings of calls made to Beaufort County dispatchers, as well as details of the Parris Island Marine Corps recruit depot on the tragic events of that day.
Calls to 911 indicate an intense scene on the ground as Beals attempts to resuscitate and assist the other two recruits.
They also raise questions.
How long did it take before someone noticed that Beals needed help? How long had he been unresponsive before the first responders were alerted and turned their attention to him?
MCRD spokesperson Captain Bryan McDonnell said emergency responders from Parris Island Fire and Emergency Services, who had a substation in the Crucible training area, have reaches each recruit within 10 minutes of dispatching notification.
But records of Beaufort County 911 calls show some Marines who called for help on departure struggled to be connected to emergency dispatchers on Parris Island.
At the time, recruits were participating in Crucible training, which begins in week 11 of their 13 weeks at Parris Island, a recruit station that trains 20,000 men and women a year.
Beals has been described as a “gentle giant” who dreamed of joining the military.
Her autopsy was performed at the South Carolina Medical University in Charleston on Tuesday, according to assistant coroner Debbie Youmans. Autopsy results are usually available eight to ten weeks later, Youmans said.
A Naval Criminal Investigative Service investigation is underway into Beals’ cause of death, MCRD’s McDonnell said.
And an investigation into the security of Le Creuset is being carried out by a council headed by a senior officer. Made up of panel experts, this panel specifically examines the safety of Crucible, McDonnell said.
What happened on June 4th?
On Friday, the second day of the Crucible, temperatures near Parris Island were between the mid to high 80s and relative humidity levels in the 60% to 70% range, according to the centers. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reports for Environmental Information.
The first 911 call was made at 3:49 pm and claimed that a recruit was suffering from “heat injuries”.
“We have a hallucinating rookie,” said the appellant.
Beaufort County has transferred this call to dispatchers on Parris Island.
Parris Island Fire and Emergency Services are based in Parris Island and have their own dispatch services separate from Beaufort County.
In another call at 3:51 p.m., a Beaufort County dispatcher called Parris Island emergency dispatchers to find out if they were aware of the situation.
An hour later, dispatchers in Beaufort County received a second call for help. The recruit who was in distress was identified as a woman who was also suffering from heat. People at the scene can be heard in the background trying to help her by elevating her legs and trying to help her calm down.
“Open your eyes,” said a person in the background. “I know it’s cold. You have to stay awake!
Calls continued to rebound to Beaufort County.
If a call is made from a cell phone on Parris Island, it will first go to Beaufort County dispatchers who will then transfer it to Parris Island, the sheriff’s office major said. from Beaufort County, Bob Bromage. If the call is made from a landline at the base, Bromage said, it will go directly to Parris Island dispatchers.
The third call for help arrived at 5:12 p.m., asking Beaufort County dispatchers to move them to Parris Island.
“We have a recruit who is not responding right now,” said a caller, who identified himself as Sergeant Howard. “I’m pretty sure Med One is already there, but we’ve got another falling; we call them right away.
A fourth call arrived a minute later from dispatchers at Hilton Head, who transferred the appellant to Beaufort County. The appellant informed dispatchers that recruit Beals did not have a pulse until he was asked by someone on his side to wave for an ambulance.
The call appears to have been dropped and Beaufort County received its fifth call for help on Page Field. Those at the scene can be heard attempting to resuscitate Beals with the help of the dispatcher.
“Carry on, carry on,” said the caller. “Don’t stop at all!
The call was again returned to Beaufort County as dispatchers attempted to connect to Parris Island before being informed by the appellant that police from Parris Island had arrived.
At 5:15 p.m., a Beaufort County (BCD) dispatcher made a final call to the Parris Island (PID) dispatcher.
The conversation went like this:
BCD: OK, I called you because we had a CPR the rookie, you take him there, don’t you?
BCD: Is there something wrong with all of your phones?
PID: What do you mean?
BCD: It’s returning to Beaufort County.
PID: Is he going back to Beaufort County?
BCD: Yes sir.
PID: OK, thanks for that. I believe there is something wrong.
BCD: Yeah, can you make sure it’s okay because we’ve got, say, five calls from you on this for this CPR call.
McDonnell said late last week that it doesn’t appear that the call transfers have caused a delay in a medical response.
In each case, the medical responders reached the recruits within 10 minutes of being informed by dispatchers.
Did transfers between Beaufort County and Parris Island dispatchers lengthen this response?
Transfer times between dispatchers are on average less than 90 seconds, “so that doesn’t appear to have caused a significant delay,” McDonnell said.
Examining transfer times will be part of the investigation, McDonnell said.
Parris Island Fire and Emergency Services were called at around the same time to assist three people at two separate event sites in Page Field, McDonnell said.
During the Crucible, an entire company, comprising six platoons of 70 to 90 recruits, participate in training at the same time, rotating through different event areas that are not so far apart.
Medical staff were already on the scene to respond to two people with heat-related illnesses when they received the call saying Beals needed help, McDonnell said.
They were a few yards away and immediately proceeded to Beals.
“Close enough to be there in a minute,” McDonnell said.
These medical responders attempted to resuscitate Beals at that time, he said. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
McDonnell said he could not comment on the circumstances of Beals’ death, including whether Beals had already died by the time medical staff reached him, as the case is under investigation.
Graduation this week
A second recruit was treated at Beaufort Memorial Hospital. Another was treated on the spot.
The names of other people in need of medical assistance were not disclosed.
The crucible, which began on Thursday, ended on Saturday.
Those who completed the exercise received the eagle, globe and anchor emblem with their bodies, McDonnell said.
Chaplains and behavioral health personnel were made available to speak with the new Marines, McDonnell said.
Graduation for Echo Company is June 18th.
McDonnell said: “Our thoughts are with them [Beals’ family] and new Marines who trained with Dalton.