Coast Guard, Navy medevac ill mariner from sailing vessel north of Oahu

SH-60 SeahawkHONOLULU — Coast Guard and Navy aircrews conducted a medevac of a 58-year-old mariner from the 45-foot sailing vessel Second Chance 184 miles north of Oahu, Sunday.

A Navy SH-60 helicopter crew from Marine Corps Base Hawaii hoisted the mariner aboard the helicopter and returned to Kaneohe Bay where he was transferred in stable condition to awaiting emergency medical personnel for further transport to Castle Medical Center.

A Coast Guard HC-130 Hercules airplane crew flew cover for the Navy helicopter and managed communications with the sailing vessel crew for both aircraft and Coast Guard Sector Honolulu watchstanders. A Coast Guard hospital corpsman flew with the Navy helicopter crew, administered an IV to the mariner and monitored his condition en route to Oahu.

At 5:55 a.m. Thursday the Coast Guard received a request for a medevac of the mariner who was suffering from extreme seasickness and is diabetic with a heart condition. The vessel departed Ko’olina, Oahu, with six people aboard five days earlier but turned around when the mariner became severely ill.

They were three days from Oahu at the time of their call for assistance. A Coast Guard duty flight surgeon recommended the crew monitor the mariner’s condition and close the distance between them and Coast Guard crews. The Second Chance crew maintained a regular communications schedule with the Coast Guard.

By 4:40 a.m. Saturday the mariner’s previously stable condition was deteriorating. The Coast Guard duty flight surgeon recommended a medevac to bring the mariner to higher level of medical care as soon as possible. The Second Chance was still outside the range of any hoist capable aircraft and there were no vessels in the area. The crew continued to make way toward Oahu.

Watchstanders estimated the vessel would be within range of air assets by first light Sunday and coordinated with the Navy’s Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 37 (HSM-37 “Easyriders”) to conduct the hoist. The Coast Guard Hercules crew launched prior to sunrise and the helicopter crew shortly after.

The helicopter crew deployed their rescue swimmer and attempted to hoist the mariner from the deck of the Second Chance but 13 mph winds from the east and 7-foot seas made it impossible to do safely. The rescue swimmer was instead able to swim the mariner from the sailing vessel to the awaiting rescue basket a few hundred yards from the Second Chance, clear of the mast and rigging. Once the mariner was safely aboard the crew recovered their rescue swimmer and departed for Kaneohe Bay.

“This case’s extreme distance and the mariner’s need underscores the importance of having hoist capable helicopters in the main Hawaiian Islands,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Robert Scott, of Coast Guard Joint Rescue and Coordination Center Honolulu. “Our thanks to the Navy for their continued support and partnership in this case, allowing us to get the mariner to vital medical care in the most expedient way possible.”

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