A Cormorant Search and Rescue helicopter hovers of the freighter Mitose while crew members assist in the evacuation of a sailor suffering a medical emergency last week in seas 130 km northwest of Vancouver Island.

Comox SAR in medevac

Crewmember in medical distress airlifted to Port Hardy.

PORT HARDY—A crewmember airlifted from a 740-foot cargo ship was taken by helicopter to Port Hardy before being transferred to a waiting rescue plane for a flight to hospital in Comox last Wednesday, Nov. 21.

The freighter Mitose was sailing approximately 130 km northwest of Vancouver Island when the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre Victoria received a call for help at 9:40 a.m. indicating one of its crew was suffering from possible medical distress.

The crew member was evacuated by an RCAF Search and Rescue (SAR) helicopter from 442 Squadron, after he suffered a potential medical emergency, Wednesday, November 21st.

A Cormorant helicopter and a Buffalo SAR airplane, part of the RCAF’s 442 Squadron, were launched from their base at 19 Wing Comox and 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 crewmember into the helicopter,” said Captain Luc Coates, aircraft commander of the Cormorant. “We hovered about 50 feet above the deck, and hoisted our first Search and Rescue Technician (SAR Tech) 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 Tech was on the ship, he attached a guideline to bring down two other SAR Techs 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 Sergeant Shawn Harrison, SAR Tech.

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.