Comox SAR techs swim through 15 ft swells to reach fisherman
Search and Rescue crews from 442 Transport and Rescue Squadron were called early Monday morning, to carry out a medical evacuation of a fisherman reporting shortness of breath.
Joint Rescue Coordination Centre Victoria received the call for assistance from a 72-foot fishing vessel approximately 225 kilometers off Sandspit, British Columbia at approximately 10:00 p.m. Sunday night. A Cormorant helicopter, supported by a Buffalo Search and Rescue airplane, was sent from 19 Wing Comox to evacuate the man from the vessel.
As the Buffalo circled overhead, lighting up the night sky with powerful flares dropped by parachute, the Cormorant positioned itself in a hover over the boat. The helicopter pilots expertly fought high surface winds while carefully avoiding antennas protruding from the boat.
“It was difficult for the helicopter to stay over the boat,” said Master Corporal Anthony Vail, Search and Rescue Technician (SAR Tech). “The boat was pitching erratically, making the hoist down hazardous. In the end, we jumped into the water and swam about 30 feet to the boat’s ladder though 15 foot swells.”
Once on the boat, the SAR Techs stabilized the patient and prepared him for the difficult hoist from the deck of the ship. When the Cormorant returned overhead, conditions had improved sufficiently to allow the crew to use a basket to hoist the patient into the helicopter.
The helicopter then flew to Sandspit where the patient was transferred to the Buffalo for the flight back to 19 Wing Comox. Once on the ground, the patient was transferred to the care of BC Ambulance in stable condition.
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