Skip to main content

Long haul for rescuers

The Coast Guard in Alaska flew a total of more than 4,000 miles Nov. 19 in uninterrupted legs of up to 1,000 miles to rescue a 51-year-old Ukrainian crewman aboard a bulk carrier who was in need of medical attention, according to an article in the Alaska Report.

The carrier was 25 miles south of AdakIsland, part of the Aleutian chain and the southernmost point in the state. The Coast Guard received the call at 1:45 a.m. from the Sparrow, a 621-foot carrier requesting a medevac for the second officer, according to the report. The man had begun showing signs of a stroke and an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter and a HC-130 Hercules airplane were deployed from Kodiak to the island. The crew of the Sparrow was able to sustain the ailing man until the Coast Guard arrived around noon that day and hoisted him aboard the helo in 25 mph winds and six-foot seas.

The 4,000 miles collectively flown by the two aircraft is equivalent to flying from St. Louis, Mo., to Dublin, Ireland.

“We are used to flying long distances in Alaska, but in a situation like this, bad weather, language barriers and the remoteness of the medevac only added to a prolonged and complicated situation,” says Lt. Cmdr. Alan Hansen, the aircraft commander of the HC-130, in the report. “There were a lot of moving pieces to consider over a large area, but the coordination between the helicopter and the HC-130 crews, those on the ship and the command center made everything come together successfully.”

The man was reported in stable condition and was flown to AdakIsland, where he was transferred to a Life Flight Air Ambulance and flown to Anchorage for medical treatment. The Sparrow, which had come from Vancouver, British Columbia, resumed its route to Indonesia, according to the report.

— Elizabeth Ellis