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CFB Comox crew airlifts passenger from cruise ship

A passenger on board a cruise ship, 30 km off Brooks Peninsula, northwest of Vancouver Island, was evacuated to hospital by an RCAF Search and Rescue helicopter, after suffering a medical emergency.

The Cormorant helicopter left its base at 19 Wing, Comox at 7:40 a.m. after Joint Rescue Coordination Centre Victoria received a call for help from the cruise ship “Oosterdam”.  The rescue crew arrived over the ship at approximately 8:30 a.m.

Strong winds of almost 75 km/h in the area forced the helicopter crew to conduct a hoist off the bow of the ship, from a height of 140 feet.  With the helicopter flying backwards at 45 km/h to compensate for the wind and turbulence, two Search and Rescue Technicians were lowered to the deck, where they placed the patient into a rescue basket.

“We had good communication with the ship’s bridge crew and they were able to maneuver the ship to help us, but we still had to handle strong winds,” said Captain Luc Coates, aircraft commander.  “The First Officer, Capt Pete Wright and Flight Engineer, Warrant Officer James MacDougall, worked very well to develop a plan before we came in; it made the hoist efficient, despite the challenging winds.”

Once the patient was on board, the helicopter flew to Victoria General Hospital, where he was transferred in stable condition.

— 19 Wing Comox

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