“On Wednesday 5 December at 06h00, NSRI Port Elizabeth volunteer sea rescue duty crew were activated following a request for medical assistance from the South African registered 79 foot stern trawler ECHALAR in deep seas South of St Francis Bay reporting a 45 year old Spanish crewman to be suffering severe chest pain” said NSRI Port Elizabeth station commander, Ian Gray.
“Our NSRI Port Elizabeth volunteer sea rescue duty crew went on alert and NSRI St Francis Bay were also placed on alert while a Government EMS duty doctor spoke to the ships Captain and the decision was taken for an immediate medical evacuation based on the information received which gave the impression that the patient may be suffering from a heart attack.
“The Transnet National Ports Authority authorized an immediate helicopter rescue operation to be launched.
“At 08h02 an SA Air Force (SAAF) 15 Squadron Charlie flight BK-119 helicopter, accompanied by an Air Force pilot, an Air Force flight engineer, two NSRI rescue swimmers and a Netcare 911 paramedic, responded from the Port Elizabeth Air Force Base and on arrival on-scene, at 08h32, in rough sea conditions, 20 nautical miles South of St Francis Bay (60 nautical miles South from Port Elizabeth), the two NSRI rescue swimmers and the Netcare 911 paramedic were hoisted from the helicopter onto the deck of the ship and the patient was stabilized and then hoisted into the helicopter and all 3 rescuers were then also hoisted into the helicopter.
“It continued to be suspected that the patient was suffering from a heart attack based on the signs and symptoms the patient displayed.
“On the helicopters arrival at the Port of Port Elizabeth the patient was transferred into a Netcare 911 ambulance and transported to hospital in a stable condition where doctors have confirmed that the patient has pneumonia of the right lung and was not suffering a heart attack.
“The patient is expected to make a full recovery in hospital.
“The ship has continued to fishing grounds at sea.”
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