Coast Guard Rescue Swimmer Injured During Rescue

CLEARWATER, Fla. – A Coast Guard Air Station Clearwater rescue swimmer was injured during a medevac of a man with chest pain from a fishing vessel approximately 135 miles southwest of Ft. Myers, Fla., at about 10 p.m. Monday.

Dan Jensen, 37, from Pinellas Park, Fla., was reported to have been experiencing chest pains while aboard the fishing vessel Michelle Marie, home ported in John’s Pass, Fla., when the vessel issued a distress call at about 7:17 p.m. Monday.

Petty Officer 2nd Class, Brett Durham, a rescue swimmer assigned to Coast Guard Air Station Clearwater, injured his arm when he struck the side of the fishing vessel Michelle Marie as he was being lowered from an Air Station Clearwater H-60 helicopter to the vessel at about 10 p.m. Monday. Durham’s injury stopped the medevac and warranted his transport for medical treatment. Durham was flown to Tampa General Hospital, Tampa, Fla. in stable condition.

Another Air Station Clearwater H-60 helicopter was readied for launch to finish the medevac but could not take off due to a maintenance issue. Meanwhile the U.S. Naval Ship Antares, which had relayed the initial distress call from the Michelle Marie to the Coast Guard, moved alongside the fishing vessel and transferred Jensen from the Michelle Marie, using a stokes litter.

Durham’s helicopter returned to Air Station Clearwater, swapped crews and rendezvoused with the Antares, a 946-foot U.S. Naval ship homeported in Jacksonville, Fla. Jensen was successfully medevaced from the Antares at about 2:16 a.m today and was subsequently flown to Tampa General Hospital in stable condition.

“We operate in a high risk environment, and with training, we can manage those risks,” said Lt. Josh Fitzgerald, safety officer at Coast Guard Air Station Clearwater. “Training is an important role in our search and rescue readiness, and allows us to be prepared for the most demanding and unexpected situations.”

The causes of Durham’s injuries are under investigation.

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