Coast Guard conducts medical transport from uninhabited island in CNMI

The USCGC Myrtle Hazard (WPC 1139) crew return to Guam Aug. 18, 2022, following a patrol and medical transport of a 50-year-old man from Agrihan Island to Saipan. The Myrtle Hazard crew, responding to a request from the EOC team in Saipan successfully transferred the man to the cutter and further transferred him to awaiting Saipan EMS personnel in good condition. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Chief Warrant Officer Sara Muir)

The Coast Guard Cutter Myrtle Hazard crew return to Guam Aug. 18, 2022, following a patrol and medical transport of a 50-year-old man from Agrihan Island to Saipan. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Chief Warrant Officer Sara Muir)

SANTA RITA, Guam — A 50-year-old man was medically evacuated by the Coast Guard Cutter Myrtle Hazard (WPC 1139) crew from Agrihan Island to Saipan on Aug. 18.

“Called to render aid to a person in need on Agrihan Island, we made our best speed to effect a quick transport to Saipan,” said Lt. Jalle Merritt, commanding officer of Myrtle Hazard. “The evolution was largely successful due to the joint effort of our assets both afloat and ashore. A big thank you goes to the folks in both Guam and Saipan who provided timely communications relay to the patient while our crew was en route, and another goes to the supportive village who made a creative pick-up of the patient as safe and seamless as possible.”

Watchstanders at Joint Rescue Sub-Center Guam were notified by Emergency Operations Center Saipan personnel Monday, Aug. 15, of an emergency medical transport request to bring a man reportedly experiencing chest pains 245 miles from Agrihan to Saipan.

Agrihan is a small island, 17 sq. mi. in size, in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Island. While there were residents in the past, including Chamorro residents documented by Spanish sailors in the 1500s and coconut plantations in the 1900s, there are currently no permanent settlements or medical services.

The watch consulted the U.S. Coast Guard duty flight surgeon about the man’s condition, and he recommended a transfer by boat to care as soon as possible. The Saipan EOC team reported they could not conduct the evacuation due to the worsening sea state and requested U.S. Coast Guard assistance.

Watchstanders directed the Myrtle Hazard crew, already underway, to divert from their patrol. Agrihan has no developed harbor or pier. Watchstanders, communicating through the Saipan EOC, determined Myrtle Hazard’s small boat could access the adjacent lagoon. The shore party vectored in the U.S. Coast Guard team with smoke signals on the beach.

On Wednesday, Aug. 17, the Myrtle Hazard crew successfully transferred the man to the cutter. The team safely transferred him to awaiting Saipan EMS personnel in good condition Thursday, Aug. 18, before returning to Guam. The Myrtle Hazard is one of three 154-foot Sentinel-class fast response cutters home-ported in Guam.

“This case exemplifies the importance of partnerships and good communication to get someone from an extremely remote area to a higher level of medical care,” said Merritt. “Through this team effort, Myrtle Hazard and our sister ships can continue to meet the needs of all in Micronesia.”

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