Critically ill sailor airlifted to hospital 45nm off Richards Bay
A critically ill sailor was airlifted to hospital 45nm off Richards Bay in a multi-agency operation. At 13h00 on Saturday, 27 November 2021, NSRI Durban Airborne Sea Rescue (ASR) crew, South African Air Force (SAAF) 15 Squadron pilots and flight crew and Netcare 911 rescue paramedics departed the SAAF Durban 15 Squadron Air Force Base aboard a SAAF Oryx helicopter to rendezvous with a bulk carrier motor vessel to airlift a critically ill patient to hospital. The Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC) alerted Durban ASR and Netcare 911 on Friday evening to prepare for the mission. T Lorenzo Taverna-Turisan, NSRI Durban deputy station commander, said the vessel was still deep sea off the East coast of Africa at the time and making best speed towards the South African coastline. A Western Cape Government Health EMS duty doctor had evaluated the patient’s condition by satellite phone and medical advice for treatment for the patient was given to the ship’s medics by the EMS duty doctor and it was deemed necessary for the patient to be evacuated to an appropriate medical facility as soon as possible.
NSRI Richards Bay was placed on alert. Marine communications were assisted by Telkom Maritime Radio Services.
The SAAF Oryx helicopter rendezvoused with the motor vessel 45 nautical miles off-shore of Richards Bay and an NSRI rescue swimmer and two Netcare 911 rescue paramedics were hoisted from the helicopter onto the ships deck.
The patient, a 34 year old Indonesian, was taken into the care of the rescue crew from the ships medics. The patient was secured into a specialised stretcher and accompanied by a rescue paramedic the patient was hoisted into the helicopter followed by the two remaining rescuers.
Sea conditions were rough but manageable. Strong winds prevailed throughout the operation.
Advanced Life Support medical procedures were applied to the patient by the rescue paramedics and the patient was airlifted directly to a Durban hospital in a critical condition.
The rescue team and all services involved are keeping the patient and his family and colleagues in our thoughts while the doctors and nurses continue medical treatment for the patient.
NSRI Emergency Operations Centre (EOC), NSRI Durban, NSRI Ballito and NSRI Richards Bay duty controllers, Netcare 911 duty controllers, Western Cape Government Health EMS control, Telkom Maritime Radio Services, Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA), Port Health Authority and Police Sea Borderline Control assisted MRCC in logistics and coordination for this operation.
Sources: Shawn Herbst, Netcare 911 and Lorenzo Taverna-Turisan, NSRI Durban deputy station commander