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Articles Posted in Alaska

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Cordova_Alaska_Forward-300x150In anticipation of increased maritime activity during the summer fishing season, the U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak has opened the aviation support facility in Cordova, Alaska. An MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter, safety gear, and equipment were transferred to Cordova by Air Station Kodiak aircrews on Saturday, May 1st, 2021. These forward deployed hubs dramatically reduce response times and have been proven to save lives when accidents happen.

“Establishing forward operating locations helps us ensure the safety of mariners during peak fishing seasons in the region by allowing us to get on scene faster,” said Lt. Scott Kellerman, a helicopter pilot from Air Station Kodiak. “Staging crews and aircraft in Cordova can eliminate hours of flight time transiting from Kodiak to maritime emergencies in eastern Alaska during one of the busiest fishing seasons of the year.”

By establishing seasonal locations throughout the state of Alaska, the U.S. Coast Guard can cut down response times to all mariners by reducing the distance aircrews must travel when responding to emergencies.

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Coast-Guard-MH-60-Jayhawk-300x169The U.S. Coast Guard medevaced a woman from the F/V AMERICAN TRIUMPH on February 27th, 2021 after it was reported that she was suffering from symptoms consistent with an allergic reaction.

Watchstanders at the 17th District command center in Juneau received the call from Health Force Partners on behalf of F/V AMERICAN TRIUMPH at about 4 p.m. and directed the launch of a crew from Forward Operating Location Cold Bay. The vessel was located approximately 100 miles northwest of the Cold Bay location.

The 31-year old crewmember was hoisted by an Air Station Kodiak MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew and transported to a LifeMed flight team in Cold Bay. She was then transported to a higher level of care in Anchorage.

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Medevac-AK-Ocean-1024x512A 45-year old crewmember was medevaced on Sunday, February 21st after sustaining a crush injury to his arm.

District 17 Watchstanders in Juneau, Alaska received the request for assistance from HealthForce Partners on behalf of the F/V ALASKA OCEAN. A medevac was required for the injured fisherman.

A U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter aircrew was deployed and traveled to the site of the accident, approximately 30 miles northeast of Cold Bay, Alaska. The injured crewmember was then transferred to the local Cold Bay medical clinic to await an additional transfer to Anchorage, Alaska for a higher level of care.

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Surgeon12x6-300x150Before heading off to sea, workers have a great deal of planning and details to attend to. The last thing anyone wants to think about is becoming ill at sea. For many, COVID-19 has been the current threat, but for others, appendicitis at sea is a genuine and dangerous health emergency that requires immediate attention.

Each year about 300,000 Americans will require an emergency appendectomy or the surgical removal of the appendix. Acute appendicitis is most common among people between 10 and 35 years of age. Among the U.S. population, 1 in 20 will suffer from appendicitis at some time in their lives. Surgery is usually on an urgent or emergency basis and among health care experts is regarded as the best course of action.

When severe abdominal pain and nausea set in, most individuals will quickly seek medical attention that will result in a swift surgery. But what happens when the victim is working at sea? Assistance is required immediately. Last week, Watchstanders in the 17th District command center in Juneau received the call from the F/V ARICA requesting a medevac for one of their crew members who was presenting with signs of appendicitis.

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Survival_Suit_Saves_Man-300x196On November 2, 2020, the U.S. Coast Guard 17th District command center received a “search and rescue satellite alert” from the F/V IRONY. A 70-year-old man had fallen into the rough waters of Union Bay, Alaska, just northwest of Meyers Chuck.

The U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Sitka launched an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew as well as the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter ANACAPA and crew to carry out the search and rescue operation. The man was found clinging to a piece of debris, immediately hoisted, then taken to awaiting emergency medical personnel in Ketchikan, Alaska.

“What saved this man’s life was his essential survival equipment,” said Lt. Justin Neal, a helicopter pilot from Air Station Sitka. “He had an emergency position indicating radio beacon registered in his name that allowed us to find him quickly, and his survival suit kept him warm long enough for us to rescue him.”

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Atlantico1200x600U.S. Coast Guard watchstanders received a call on September 16th from the F/V ATLANTICO reporting that a 40-year-old crew member had suffered a back injury.

The Duty Flight Surgeon was consulted regarding the nature of the injury, and a medevac was recommended. The District 17 command center ordered the launch of an Air Station Kodiak MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter and aircrew. The injured fisherman was hoisted, transferred to Cold Bay, then transported to Anchorage to awaiting medical personnel.

“Good coordination between the Atlantico crew, command center personnel, and the Jayhawk aircrew attributed to our ability to successfully perform this medevac and get the injured fisherman to proper medical care,” said Lt.j.g. Lindsay Wheeler, a District 17 command center watchstander.

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Kodiak_AK-300x225A fisherman was injured on Monday, July 20th while working aboard the F/V RUBICON. The U.S. Coast Guard command center in Anchorage, Alaska received a call at approximately 12:45 p.m. from the wife of the fishing vessel’s master, informing officials that a medevac was needed for an injured crew member. The vessel was located just north of Kodiak Island at the time of the incident.

An Air Station Kodiak MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter stationed at the District 17 command center was launched, then landed on a nearby beach at about 1:42 p.m. The fisherman was transferred from the 42-foot F/V RUBICON to the awaiting helicopter crew via small boat. The injured crewmember was then medevaced to awaiting emergency medical personnel in Kodiak.

“This was a very quick case,” said Lt. Jared Carbajal, the aircraft commander on the case. “Good communications from the boat, excellent flexibility and the captain’s expert seamanship enabled a very quick pick-up and transfer of the injured fisherman to medical care.”

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Alaska-Beach1200x600-300x150It is with great sadness that we report the deaths of Cole Rutzer and Dylan Furford, two young men who grew up in a tight-knit community near Westport, Washington. They were doing what they loved, working hard, and bringing in Dungeness crab aboard the F/V PACIFIC DYNASTY.

Greg Rutzer, Cole Rutzer’s father, and Brent Gilbertson, a cousin, were also working on the vessel. According to reports, the crew had just dropped their crab pots. Rutzer and Furford loved adventures, and with the little downtime they had, took a Zodiac skiff and Cole’s dog to Tugidak Island, about ½ mile from where the F/V PACIFIC DYNASTY was anchored. They planned on doing some beachcombing on the remote island then return to the vessel in the late afternoon.

Scott McCann, a spokesman for the Coast Guard, said the men had provided a float plan to the captain, Greg Rutzer. They were to return to the vessel before dinner.

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Cordova_Alaska_aerial-300x177
Salmon fishing season is about to begin, but nothing is business as usual this year. In just a few weeks, about 400 fishermen and processing workers will arrive in Cordova, Alaska for the opening of King Salmon and Copper River Sockeye season. The town of Cordova has a full-time population of 2,100. With no road access, Cordova has no confirmed cases of COVID-19 at the time of this post, and while most members of the community support workers arriving for the harvest (showers and bathrooms at the community center have been repurposed to serve the influx of workers), they also want to see that quarantine recommendations and other safe practices are maintained.

No one wants a repeat of the cruise industry crisis or infamous meat-packing industry outbreaks that have recently been in the news. The spread of COVID-19 in the South Dakota Smithfield Foods pork plant has been linked to over 640 cases of the virus, and 51 cases at the Tyson Foods meat-packing plant in Pasco, Washington. These are essential businesses that failed, for a variety of reasons, to keep their workers safe.

Trident Seafoods has reported that four processing plant employees have tested positive for COVID-19 as well as two office workers. Five have recovered and one is still at home convalescing as of April 20. The company is checking employees for fever daily and furthering their sanitation efforts. In response, Trident Seafood is requiring workers to quarantine for 14 days before boarding fishing and processing vessels. Many have checked into hotels and are being monitored by healthcare workers before going to sea. Although it may seem extreme, the precautions are an indication of how seriously the fishing industry is taking this public health crisis. The companies involved are acutely aware that an outbreak aboard a vessel at sea would be disastrous.

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Bountiful-300x167A 43-year-old man was medevaced after sustaining severe burns while aboard the F/V BOUNTIFUL. The vessel was located approximately 46 miles southwest of Saint Paul, Alaska at the time of the injury.

Watchstanders received the call at approximately 9:56 a.m. that a crewmember had been severely burned. After a brief consultation with the Coast Guard duty flight surgeon, an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew from Air Station Kodiak was launched. The injured man was safely hoisted then flown to Saint Paul and transferred to awaiting emergency medical personnel at approximately 2:56 p.m. A further transport to Anchorage was required for further medical treatment. Weather on the scene was reported as 8-12 foot seas, wind at 46 mph, with 12 miles of visibility.

Injuries caused by marine fires and explosions are some of the most painful and debilitating types of injuries. Burns can cause serious and permanent harm and must be treated immediately. Victims who suffer these types of injuries are protected by Federal Maritime Law. Seamen, fishermen, and crewmembers who are injured due to unseaworthiness or negligence are entitled to compensation for pain and suffering, psychological injuries, lost wages, lost wage-earning capacity, disfigurement, vocational retraining, and future health care expenses. In nearly every case, the injured party is entitled to maintenance and cure which includes the payment of all necessary medical expenses and rehabilitation costs. It should be noted that injured crewmembers also have the right to choose their own doctor/physician.

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