U.S. Coast Guard rescues injured Canadian fisherman by helicopter
VICTORIA -- A U.S. Coast Guard helicopter pilot is crediting the live-saving first aid the crew of a Canadian fishing vessel gave to a 19-year-old crewmember after he seriously cut his leg and had to be airlifted off the boat.
"(They) took really good care of their crew member, they stabilized the bleeding," said Lieutenant Skylar Swenson in an interview with CTV News Vancouver Island. "The fishing vessel (crew) saved the life of their own crew member."
The injury was serious: a six-inch deep cut that had hit an artery, Swenson said. The injured Canadian man was airlifted off the fishing vessel in a daring rescue by the United States Coast Guard on Saturday and was transported to hospital in Port Angeles, Washington.
Swenson said the young man was in stable condition, alert and responsive when he was loaded into an ambulance on the ground.
According to the United States Coast Guard, the Ocean Pearl commercial fishing boat was operating 80 kilometres west off Neah Bay when the incident happened.
“Watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector Puget Sound in Seattle received the medevac request from the captain of the 110-foot fishing vessel Ocean Pearl at about 1 p.m.,” according to the agency.
The crew responded on a MH-65 Dolphin helicopter and arrived on the scene at 2:14 p.m. The helicopter crew first lowered their rescue swimmer down to the boat, then hoisted the injured man up to the helicopter using a rescue basket, Swenson said, all while the 110-foot fishing boat bucked and rolled in eight to 10-foot ocean waves.
The rescue was conducted as the fishing boat continued to sail. Keeping the boat moving actually reduces the amount the vessel pitches and rolls, Swenson said.
A video of the rescue shows the helicopter hovering over the moving fishing boat as the man is loaded and hoisted up. Once the man reaches the helicopter, he is seen waving and giving a thumbs up.
"That's the best thing, to go home and know we saved a young man's life and to see the smile on his face," Swenson said.