Coast Guard flies 4,000 miles to conduct medevac off Alaska

KODIAK, Alaska – Coast Guard rescue crews flew more than 4,000 miles to conduct a medical evacuation of a 51-year-old Ukrainian crewman aboard a bulk carrier 25 miles south of Adak Island, Alaska, Wednesday.

An MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter and HC-130 Hercules airplane flew from Kodiak to Adak Island Tuesday allowing the 621-foot bulk carrier Sparrow to transit closer to Adak Island and within range of the helicopter. The survivor was safely hoisted into the helicopter Wednesday around noon in 25 mph winds and six-foot seas and flown to Adak Island, reportedly in stable condition. He was then transferred aboard a Life Flight Air Ambulance and taken to Anchorage, Alaska, for medical treatment.

“We are used to flying long distances in Alaska, but in a situation like this, bad weather, language barriers and the remoteness of the medevac only added to a prolonged and complicated situation,” said Lt. Cmdr. Alan Hansen, HC-130 aircraft commander. “There were a lot of moving pieces to consider over a large area, but the coordination between the helicopter and C-130 crews, those on the ship and the command center made everything come together successfully.”

The Coast Guard initially received a phone call Monday around 1:45 a.m. from the agent of the Sparrow requesting a medevac for the second officer. The Sparrow crew was able to treat the 51-year-old Ukrainian man aboard the vessel after he began exhibiting signs of a stroke.

The Marshall Island-flagged vessel was en route from Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, to Indonesia. The vessel has resumed its previous course.

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