Coast Guard icebreaker medevacs woman from icebound Mackinac Island

Crewmembers from Coast Guard Cutter Katmai Bay and emergency workers embark a patient being medevaced from Mackinac Island, Mich. February 7, 2022. The ship diverted from its icebreaking mission on the St. Marys RIver to take on the case. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

Crewmembers from Coast Guard Cutter Katmai Bay and emergency workers embark a patient being medevaced from Mackinac Island, Mich. February 7, 2022.  U.S. Coast Guard photo.

MACKINAC ISLAND, Mich. — The Coast Guard responded to an urgent request for medical assistance on Mackinac Island Monday in an unusually improvisational way.

Watchstanders received notification of a woman in need of critical medical attention on Mackinac Island this morning. While helicopters are generally used for such missions, difficult weather conditions at the Coast Guard’s air station in Traverse City made that impossible. Fortunately, Coast Guard Cutter Katmai Bay, a 140-foot icebreaker, was underway clearing a path on the St. Marys River, and the crew immediately altered plans and set a course for Mackinac Island.

Katmai Bay arrived at the island’s main dock about 11 a.m. and embarked the woman with the help of local EMS. The ship then used its icebreaking capabilities to plow a course to nearby St. Ignace in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, where EMS was waiting. The woman was successfully transported to a local hospital where she is receiving next level care.

“Today’s efforts by our crews demonstrate the flexibility and ingenuity of our search and rescue planners in finding solutions to complex cases, regardless of the weather,” said Capt. Anthony Jones, Sector Commander of Sector Sault Ste. Marie. The sector encompasses all of Lake Superior and the northern portion of lakes Huron and Michigan. “My hat is also off to the crew of the Katmai Bay, who shifted from icebreaking to search and rescue in a matter of moments to help this woman get the critical care she needed.”

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