Diver with severe decompression sickness medevaced from remote atoll

Hawaii-Pacific Coast Guard News
APRA HARBOR, Guam – A diver suffering from severe decompression sickness was successfully medevaced from Chuuk Atoll to Guam by the Coast Guard Wednesday.

Watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector Guam received a medevac request Monday from Chuuk State Hospital for a 51-year-old American male suffering from severe decompression sickness. A Coast Guard flight surgeon, a naval dive medical officer and the patient’s attending physician consulted and recommended a medevac as the hyperbaric chamber in Chuuk was inoperable.

Two HC-130 Hercules crews launched from Coast Guard Air Station Barbers Point Tuesday evening with a three-person medical team from Kalawao Rescue. Kalawao Rescue is a Hawaii-based disaster medical team that provides initial and follow-on medical response to major emergencies and disasters.

The airplane landed in Kwajelain Tuesday night to swap crews and refuel before continuing to Chuuk. The patient was then safely flown to Guam Memorial Hospital for treatment.

The aircrew flew more than 4,000 miles from Hawaii to Guam to complete the medevac. This is comparable to dispatching an ambulance from Miami to respond to a patient in Anchorage. The 14th Coast Guard District encompasses more than 12.2 million square miles of the Central and South Pacific. The HC-130, the primary means of conducting long range missions, is scheduled to be replaced by the HC-130J, which will bring increased speed, range and capability to the Coast Guard mission in the Pacific.

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