Navy helicopter squadron airlifts patient from cruise ship

AIRLIFT: The Guam-based “Island Knights” of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 25 responded to a medical evacuation request for a patient requiring emergency medical treatment on May 16 off Saipan. Photo courtesy of Air Force Airman 1st Class Gerald R. Willis

The Guam-based “Island Knights” of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 25 responded to a medical evacuation request to airlift a patient from a cruise ship near Saipan on May 16, the Navy announced Friday in a press release.

U.S. Coast Guard Sector Guam notified HSC-25 of the patient who was in critical condition and requiring immediate transport for emergency surgery. The HSC-25 Search and Rescue duty crew, led by the squadron executive officer, Cmdr. Thomas Butts, launched shortly after sunrise to recover the patient from the cruise ship Pacific Princess north of Saipan. 

Pacific Princess departed from the Port of Los Angeles on April 20. Princess Cruises had announced the cancellation of Pacific Princess' Fall cruises sailing to Hawaii and French Polynesia through November.

“[Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Joshua] Cuevas did a fantastic job of getting the patient off the cruise ship in a safe and timely manner and to Saipan Hospital staff with the aid of HSC-25 maintenance, the Pacific Princess crew, and U.S. Coast Guard Sector Guam,” said HSC-25 flight surgeon Lt. Tracey Kim. “I'm especially proud of our helicopter crew, since, for some, this was their first rescue.”

Hoist operators Naval Aircrewmen 1st Class Frank Ellsworth and Naval Aircrewmen 3rd Class Ryan Horn recovered the patient via rescue hoist, assisted by co-pilot Lt. j.g. Samuel Ericksen. Lt. Kim and Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Joshua Cuevas then administered medical treatment to stabilize the patient en route to Commonwealth Healthcare Corp., where the patient was turned over to medical staff for follow-on care just over an hour after recovery, the release stated.

“The entire team’s efforts ensured a safe medevac was executed and a life was saved,” said Cmdr. Butts.

HSC-25 provides a multimission rotary wing capability for units in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations and maintains a Guam-based 24-hour search and rescue and medical evacuation capability, directly supporting U.S. Coast Guard and Joint Region Marianas. HSC-25 is the Navy’s only forward-deployed helicopter sea combat squadron, according to the release.

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