Sunday, January 06, 2008
A Coast Guard helicopter flying in stormy conditions airlifted an ailing 88-year-old man and his caregiver from a cruise ship about 40 miles off the coast. Coast Guard public affairs officer Lt. Jeremy Denning said that the man had been vomiting blood and may have had some internal bleeding. He was flown to Scripps Memorial Hospital-La Jolla, Denning said. Due to federal privacy laws, his condition was not released.
Coast Guard HH-60 Jayhawk HelicopterDenning said the Coast Guard Air Station San Diego received a call at 8:23 p.m. from the cruise ship Crystal Symphony about 40 miles northwest of La Jolla. A Coast Guard flight surgeon evaluated the situation and later determined the man needed a medical evacuation. A Coast Guard HH-60 Jayhawk helicopter with a crew of four was dispatched at 9:22 p.m. and arrived at the ship within 12 minutes, Denning said. Winds were blowing about 25 to 30 mph at the time, and waves were 7 to 8 feet, Denning said. It was just starting to rain, he said. Crystal Symphony“We have to find an area that's safe for them to do the hoist. It was definitely more dangerous because of the wind and the seas,” Denning said. “The wave heights caused the ship to roll around a little bit, so we had to get the nose of the helicopter into the wind, and we had to get the ship to stop where it was not rocking a lot. Finding a spot on the ship where all that lines up is definitely more difficult than in a case when the winds and seas aren't very high.” Denning said the crew included two pilots, a flight mechanic and a rescue swimmer who is certified as an emergency medical technician. He said the man was airlifted by stretcher, and a woman identified as his caregiver was airlifted by bucket.