Extreme weather conditions make medevac challenging

An ailing man aboard a Military Sealift Command Vessel was medevaced by Coast Guard crews some 1,150 miles from Dutch Harbor on May 6 as hurricane-force winds battered the scene.

“When we went to the military vessel to get the man, it was the worst weather I’ve ever had to fly in,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Jentzen Green, one of the crew who medevaced the patient experiencing symptoms of a stroke and pneumonia to Adak, for further transfer to Anchorage.

Coast Guard officials released details of the dramatic rescue on May 14.

Green was an aviation maintenance technician and flight mechanic aboard the Dolphin helicopter from Air Station Kodiak, deployed aboard the Cutter John Midgett. The helicopter successfully landed on the MSC vessel to retrieve the ailing man, then landed aboard the John Midgett in 30-foot seas. The cutter crew then proceeded toward Adak to get in helicopter range of the island and seas contusive to launching the helicopter crew again.

“Our entire crew worked feverishly to complete this medevac including the complete ballast of a 21,000-gallon fuel tank to ensure a stable platform for helicopter operations,” said Capt. Teri Jordan, commanding officer of the John Midgett.

One near Adak the helicopter crew took off from the cutter, flying through 51 mph winds to bring the man to emergency medical personnel at Adak.

The Cutter John Midgett, homeported in Seattle, conducts missions in search and rescue, homeland security, maritime law enforcement and drug and alien migrant interdiction operations from the Bering Sea to Central American waters.