A crew member was evacuated by helicopter from a 740-foot cargo ship 130 kilometres off the northwest coast of Vancouver Island on Wednesday.
A RCAF search and rescue helicopter from 442 Squadron in Comox performed the operation after the crewman had what they called "a potential medical emergency."
The Cormorant helicopter and a Buffalo SAR airplane were launched from their base at 19 Wing Comox after Joint Rescue Co-ordination Centre Victoria received a call for help at 9:40 a.m. from the Mitose which indicated that one of their crew was suffering from possible medical distress. The rescue aircraft arrived over the ship at noon.
"We approached the stern of the ship and told the captain to turn in a direction that would create a stable platform so that we could safely hoist the crew member into the helicopter," said Capt. Luc Coates, aircraft commander of the Cormorant. "We hovered about 50 feet above the deck and hoisted our first search and rescue technician down. It was challenging because the ship was pitching up and down 15 to 20 feet and moving left to right."
Once the first SAR technician was on the ship, he attached a guideline to bring down two other technicians and a rescue basket.
"The crew already had the patient ready to go and it was a quick matter of putting him in the basket and using the hoist and guideline to bring him into the helicopter," said Sgt. Shawn Harrison.
Once the patient was on board, the helicopter flew to Port Hardy where he was put onto the Buffalo for a flight to Comox. On arrival, he was transferred in stable condition to B.C. Ambulance and taken to local hospital. The patient's current condition is unknown.
Search and Rescue incidents under the federal SAR mandate are defined as "all aircraft incidents and all marine incidents in waters under federal jurisdiction. With the exception of federally owned National Parks, the overall responsibility for land and inland water search and rescue rests with the provinces, territories and municipalities. The Canadian Forces may, however, provide assistance to land and inland water rescues when possible.
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