Articles Posted in Injury at Sea

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MRI-850x700The 2018 fishing season has seen many head and brain injuries. Being injured while working at sea can be disastrous to one’s career, but head and brain injuries can also be debilitating. Jones Act Law protects seamen, fishermen, tugboat workers, and crewmembers who have been injured while working at sea. The maritime doctrine of “maintenance and cure” is a no-fault maritime benefit. It means that the employer must pay for all reasonable medical expenses associated with a head or brain injury, including the following:

• Hospitalization

• Emergency Transportation

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Coast-Guard-MH-60-Jayhawk-300x169Watchstanders received a call on Monday, August 6th from the 116-foot F/V PATRICIA LEE reporting that a crewmember had been struck in the head by a crab pot. The Coast Guard duty flight surgeon recommended a medevac. However, due to the distant location of the vessel, two Air Station Kodiak MH-60 aircrews, a Coast Guard corpsman and an HC-130 Hercules aircrew were required for the rescue. The vessel was located approximately 190 miles west of Dutch Harbor at the time of the injury.

The first Jayhawk aircrew traveled from Kodiak to Cold Bay; the second aircrew flew from Cold Bay to the injured crewmember aboard the F/V PATRICIA LEE. The Hercules aircrew provided transportation for the second Jayhawk aircrew and facilitated communications during the medevac.

After orchestrating a heroic rescue (which included flying over 1,200 miles over a period of 17 hours) the 27-year-old man was transferred to awaiting medical personnel in Dutch Harbor. He was reported to be in stable condition.

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Medevac-Cordova-AK-e1533669424484-300x226A crewmember aboard the F/V DEVOTION sustained a head injury on Saturday, August 4th approximately 34 miles southwest of Cordova, Alaska.  It was reported that following the injury,  the 51-year-old fell and required immediate medical attention.

Watchstanders received a relay call from the charter vessel Dan Ryan requesting assistance in the form of a medevac. After a consultation with the Coast Guard duty flight surgeon, it was confirmed that the crewmember did indeed need immediate medical attention. A Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak MH-60 Jayhawk aircrew responded to the call and delivered the crewmember to awaiting medical personnel.

“When we arrived to the scene, the fishing vessel was tied up to an offshore supply vessel, which made for a unique hoist,” said Lt. Joe Chevalier, a Jayhawk pilot during the medevac. “Through the coordination of the duty flight surgeon, Sector Anchorage Watchstanders and the Devotion crew, we were able to get the man to higher level care quickly.”

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Station-Valdez-Crew-e1532746970899-300x220The U.S. Coast Guard medevaced an 18-year old crewmember on Thursday, July 26th after he suffered a severe hand injury aboard the F/V PACIFIC HARVESTER. The vessel was located in Prince William Sound, Alaska at the time of the incident.

The F/V PACIFIC HARVESTER master called watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector Anchorage command center to request a medevac as the crewmember had suffered a hand injury and was showing signs of shock. After consulting with the duty flight surgeon, a medevac was recommended. A Valdez station boat crew was dispatched and directed to the fishing vessel.

An emergency trauma technician treated the injured 18-year-old while he was in transit, then delivered him to emergency medical personnel awaiting his arrival at the Valdez pier.

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Motor-LifeboatAn injured fisherman was medevaced to Grays Harbor in Westport on Monday, June 18th after sustaining a severe hand injury while working aboard F/V Myrna Lynn.

Watchstanders at Sector Columbia River received a call at 8:15a.m. that a 50-year-old fisherman had sustained a hand injury and was in immediate need of medical assistance. The fishing vessel was located approximately 13 miles west of Grays Harbor when the call came in.

The Coast Guard responded with a 47-foot Motor Life Boat crew, and the injured worker was transported to Station Grays Harbor in Westport. Due to the nature of the injury, he was then transported to Grays Harbor Community Hospital for specialized emergency medical care. The worker was reported to be suffering from a severe hand injury and shock.

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Buoy-Life-Ring-Marine-Orange-Cruise-Tourism-651578
Everyone wants a culture of safety. Vessel owners want it, maritime workers want it, and their friends and families want it. But what is it and what steps must an organization or vessel owner take to establish it? It doesn’t happen overnight, and it doesn’t happen in a vacuum. It must start at the top, and it must feature consistency, trust, and truth. It is about doing the right thing even when no one is looking.

According to the International Maritime Organization (IMO), a United Nations agency established as the global standard-setting authority for the safety, security and environmental performance of international shipping, safety culture is defined as follows:

“An organization with a ‘safety culture’ is one that gives appropriate priority to safety and realizes that safety has to be managed like all other areas of the business.”

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Brain_Scan-1024x731The U.S. Coast Guard recently received an alarming call; a 44-year-old male appeared to be suffering a stroke while working on the fishing vessel GOLDEN ALASKA, which was located approximately 60 miles northeast of Cold Bay. Time is of the essence when treating a stroke, but what happens when the victim is out at sea? The U.S. Coast Guard forward deployed assets are crucial for this type of incident, as they are saving precious time getting crewmembers to proper medical services.

However, it is up to crewmembers to recognize stroke symptoms, report them, and get help as quickly as possible. March 12th marks the beginning of National Brain Awareness week, and this case reminds us just how important it is to know the signs of a stroke and what to do if you or a crewmate suffer the same fate. According to The American Stroke Association, stroke is the 5th leading cause of death in our nation, and the leading cause of disability. Someone suffers a stroke every 40 seconds (about 800,000 strokes happen per year).

What is a stroke?

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Cold-Bay-USCG-1024x520A 25-year-old man was airlifted by the U.S. Coast Guard from the 107-foot fishing vessel Bering Hunter after he fell and suffered a head injury.

Watchstanders at the 17th Coast Guard District command center received a call from the captain of the vessel, stating that a crewmember had fallen and sustained a head injury. The Coast Guard duty flight surgeon recommended the medevac, and a Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew was dispatched to the Bering Hunter location.

“Having assets forward deployed to Cold Bay during the winter fishing season allows our crews to respond quickly,” said Lt. J.G. Rian Ellis, a 17th district watchstander. “We are able to eliminate hours of flight time in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands, ensuring the safety of mariners.”

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cold-bay-alaskax1800-1In an effort to reduce response times during the winter commercial fishing season, the U.S Coast Guard is making good use of a “forward operating location” in Cold Bay. It was a busy week for the U.S. Coast Guard, 17th District Alaska, as they rescued a total of 4 maritime workers from various fishing vessels in the Cold Bay area this week.

On January 23rd, a Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew (forward deployed to Cold Bay) medevaced two men from two different fishing vessels in one heroic trip.

A 21-year-old man aboard F/V Ocean Peace was suffering from sea sickness and loss of consciousness when watchstanders at the 17th Coast Guard District command received the call. Sea sickness a common issue for seamen and fishermen, and the dehydration that accompanies it can be very serious. The Jayhawk helicopter crew hoisted the 21-year-old man at approximately 5 p.m., then picked up a 37-year-old man with a hip injury from the F/V Northern Patriot. Both men were safely transported and received medical treatment.

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Shipwreck-1024x683In a precedent-setting case, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has ruled that injured fishermen and seamen are indeed entitled to punitive damages under maritime law unseaworthiness guidelines. In reaching this decision in the case of Batterton v. Dutra Group, the Ninth Circuit Court referenced the outcome of several cases, including Tabingo v. American Triumph LLC, a landmark case handled by Stacey and Jacobsen, PLLC, in the Washington State Supreme Court (read about this case here). The court found that if a shipowner acts “recklessly” and creates an unseaworthy condition, the injured seaman may sue for punitive damages in addition to damages for lost income, pain and suffering, retraining costs, and all other damages.

Batterton Case Background

Christopher Batterton was a deckhand working aboard a vessel owned and operated by Dutra Group. His left hand was crushed when a hatch cover blew open. As air was pumped into a compartment below, the pressure rose to dangerous levels. This accident was directly caused by the absence of an exhaust system. With no exhaust system, the vessel was deemed “unseaworthy”. Batterton sued the vessel owner and sought punitive damages in addition to other damages. The injuries sustained in that accident caused permanent disability to Batterton and took away his livelihood.