Medevac Nearly Saves Two Sick Crewmembers

File image courtesy NSRI

By The Maritime Executive 2017-09-21 16:17:17

South Africa's National Sea Rescue Institute reported Thursday that two seafarers died in the hospital following a medevac from the bulker Agios Fanourios. Physicians believed that the two men had contracted malaria. 

At 1600 hours on Wednesday, the Transnet National Ports Authority notified NSRI's East London station that two crewmembers required evacuation from the Fanourios, which was 90 nautical miles off East London on a voyage from Abijan to Durban. The two seafarers, a 53-year-old Panamanian and a 53-year-old Filipino, were reported to be unconscious and were believed to be suffering from malaria. A Government Health physician evaluated the reports and requested an urgent medevac.

The ship was too far away for a surface craft rescue, so NSRI's Airborne Sea Rescue division launched a helicopter with rescue swimmers and paramedics to respond. The crew included SAAF pilot Colonel Bruce Fraser, Co-Pilot Captain Bertie Fourie, two flight crewmembers, three NSRI Durban ASR rescue swimmers and three rescue paramedics. 

The team rendezvoused with the ship at a position 13 nm off Port St. Johns. NSRI rescue swimmers and the paramedics were lowered onto the ship from the helicopter, and on their arrival, they found one of the patients in a serious condition and the other in critical condition.

Both patients were stabilized, secured in stretchers and hoisted into the helicopter. The Filipino patient’s heart failed once he was on board, and the team commenced CPR. The paramedics and NSRI crew managed to restore his heartbeat, and medical treatment for both seafarers continued until they arrived at a hospital in Durban at 2300 hours. 

NSRI learned that after the drop-off, hospital staff resumed CPR for both patients. Their condition had deteriorated; despite medical care, neither man survived. 

The National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) is a charity with over 1000 volunteers who respond to save lives on South African waters. The group was founded with one 15-foot inflatable boat in 1967, and today it operates 85 rescue craft, 28 rescue vehicles and 31 bases around the coast. All of its rescue crew are unpaid volunteers.