The U.S. Coast Guard air stations in Atlantic City, New Jersey medevaced a passenger  from the MSC Divina cruise ship yesterday, March 19, 2019.

The MSC cruise ship was approximately 100 miles off Atlantic City, New Jersey.  The 52-year-old man was reportedly found unconscious on the ship’s pool deck. There is no explanation how or why the passenger was rendered unconscious. According to NJ.com, a rescue crew aboard a MH-65 Dolphin helicopter from Air Station Atlantic City loaded the man onto a stretcher, hoisted him onto the helicopter and flew him to Atlantic City Regional Medical Center. The mission was supported by an HC-130 Hercules airplane crew from Air Station Elizabeth City, North Carolina.

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Video credit: Video by Petty Officer 3rd Class Ronald Hodge, U.S. Coast Guard District 5 PADET Baltimore, U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Atlantic City via Defense Visual Information Distribition Service (DVIDS).

Several guests aboard the Mariner of the Seas report that a passenger who went overboard from the Royal Caribbean cruise ship tonight has been located and rescued from the water.

I first heard of the overboard and the rescue from updates on Twitter from @kcjarvis who posted information, via a live video “periscope” app, operated under “Mariner of the Seas #rcperiscopers.”

He reported that “Oscar, Oscar, Oscar” announcements were made on the ship as it headed toward Nassau. Search and rescue protocols were then followed.

@kcjarvis provided updates from guests on the Royal Caribban cruise ship.

Later, he dramatically stated that the captain of the Royal Caribbean ship announced that the overboard person had been successfully rescued and brought aboard the ship.

The Mariner of the Seas left Miami on the late afternoon of March 18, 2019 for a four night cruise to the Bahamas (Nassau and Coco Cay). The ship is scheduled to return to Miami on the early morning of March 22nd.

It is unusual (but great news) for an overboard person to be rescued (and so quickly) and to have an account of such good news covered via a live video.

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Photo credit: Spaceaero2 – CC BY-SA 4.0, commons / wikimedia.

Video credit: @kcjarvis / Mariner of the Seas #rcperiscopers

A few minutes ago, the Regal Princess rescued two survivors of a small place crash in the Caribbean.

The Princess cruise ship was heading toward St. Thomas when the captain announced that there were two people in the water after the airplane crashed.

The cruise ship changed course to reach the site of the airplane crash. The vessel’s crew deployed a rescue boat and retrieved a life raft and two people from the plane. One passenger who contacted our office stated that the survivors were located in their life raft and waved to the cruise passengers who were cheering for them when they were rescued. The captain reportedly stated that both people are safe and doing well. The plane reportedly sank and apparently there was not a fuel slick or any debris from the crash.

A Coast Guard aircraft reportedly circled over the rescue.

Several passenger went to social media to report on the rescue:

A video of the rescue is shown below via Facebook:

Plane crash rescue at sea. They were saved! Good job to the US coast guard and the #regalprincess crew!

Posted by John Becker on Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Photo and video credit: Photo top – anonymous; photo middle – “SH” (anonymous)  video bottom – John Becker.

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The Sun Sentinel recently reported on a lawsuit filed against Holland America Line arising out of a stroke suffered by a 65 year old woman while aboard the M/S Zuiderdam in March of 2018.

Lila Graciela Kohn Gale reportedly suffered a hemorrhagic stroke shortly after the HAL cruise ship left Ft. Lauderdale at the start of a seven day Caribbean cruise. Although the medical emergency occurred less than five hours after the ship left Port Everglades, when the cruise ship was likely less than 100 miles from the South Florida coast, the ship did not contact the U.S. Coast Guard in order to request an emergency medical evacuation.

Mr. and Ms. Gales reportedly enjoyed traveling together on cruises.  Mr. Gale described his wife, prior to the cruise, as a vibrant, fun loving, bilingual therapist and counselor.

Ms. Gale lost consciousness around 8:30 p.m. on the first evening of the cruise; the ship’s doctor, Socrates Lopez, assessed Ms. Gale and quickly determined that she required a CT scan of her brain and an emergency consult with a neurologist or neurosurgeon. However, instead of calling the Coast Guard and requesting a medevac, the ship’s medical staff reportedly left Ms. Gales untreated despite her worsening condition. It then sent her via a tugboat to a hospital in Freeport, Bahamas, Rand Memorial Hospital, around 11:00 p.m., after giving her husband a medical bill for $3,500.  Ms. Gales arrived at the hospital in Freeport shortly after midnight, but the public hospital did not have a neurosurgeon, neurologist, or even a functioning CT scan.

According to the lawsuit (which you can read here), a doctor in the Bahamas made the decision to transfer Ms. Gale to Broward Health Medical Center, a comprehensive stroke center in Ft. Lauderdale, but the airport was also closed for the night.  The next morning, Ms. Gale arranged for an air ambulance (at an expenses to him of $15,000 which HAL refused to pay) to fly his wife from the Bahamas to Broward Health where she finally arrived more than 15 hours after her stroke on the cruise ship.  Ms. Gale required emergency surgery to relieve the pressure on her brain in order to try and minimize the extent of her cerebral injuries

The lawsuit alleges that the delay in treatment cause an excessive amount of Ms. Gale’s brain tissue to die, leaving her with “devastating physical, cognitive and neurological deficits which require extensive medical care and treatment around the clock.”  Her lawyer, Tom Scolaro of Leesfield Scolaro P.A. in Miami, (as quoted in the Sun Sentinel article) states that Ms. Gale is now  “severely disabled” requiring  “24-hour round-the-clock nursing care.” The Chicago Tribune, which also covered the tragic story in an article titled ‘I Want Justice’: Suburban Family Sues Cruise Ship Operator For Not Airlifting Woman Who Had Stroke On Board, further explained that Ms. Gale “cannot walk and struggles with language while her memory, perception and concentration skills have been impaired.” She now lives in pain at a nursing home and is not expected to recover enough to return home.

The irony of this sad case is is that HAL claims that it is an “industry leader in cruise medicine.” It advertises to its mostly elderly cruise customers that it can disembark them “via Coast Guard helicopter if medically appropriate and logistically possible in relation to the ship’s distance from land.”

Medically Appropriate?

Based on the facts presented, there appears to be no dispute that it was “medically appropriate,” if not absolutely necessary, to have arranged for Ms. Gale to receive comprehensive treatment at a stroke center as soon as possible.  The facts alleged are that her brain was “slowly dying;” sending her via a tugboat to an ill-equipped hospital in the Bahamas without qualified and experienced specialists appears to be an undeniably ill-conceived and callous decision under the circumstances.

Logistically Possible?

And there appears to be little dispute that it was “logistically possible” (in relation to the ship’s distance from land) for the U.S. Coast Guard to dispatch a helicopter to fly 100 miles to medevac Ms. Gale from the cruise ship.

We have written about over 150 medevacs of passengers and crew members by the Coast Guard from cruise ships since 2011 (our list is admittedly not complete).  In the last four years alone, there have been at least twenty  medevacs via helicopter where the Coast Guard flew in excess of 100 miles to the cruise ships to hoist ill passengers aboard and then fly them an equal distance to a land-based hospital in the U.S. with appropriate medical facilities and experts.

The last reported medevac, just five days ago, from a cruise ship involved a Coast Guard helicopter which flew 200 miles to the Norwegian Star west of San Diego in order to medically evacuate a passenger with a heart condition.

Shorty before Christmas last year, the Coast Guard flew a distance of 402 miles to rescue a passenger suffering from kidney failure from the Anthem of the Seas in the Atlantic so that he could receive emergency medical treatment in North Carolina.

Coast Guard Helicopters Fly Thousands of Miles a Year to Rescue Sick Passengers During Cruises

The Coast Guard also conducted the following medevacs in the last four years, each in excess of 100 miles:

These distances are to the cruise ship; the Coast Guard helicopters obviously have to fly an equal distance back to land. (There may be other emergency medical rescues via helicopter; this list is not exhaustive).

In addition to these medevacs by the U.S. Coast Guard, we have written about long distance emergency medical evacuations conducted by navy and air forces in Europe involving distances of several hundred miles, such as this case in 2017 involving the P&O Aurora where a Portuguese Air Force helicopter flew nearly 600 kilometers (photo above right) from the coast of Portugal to rescue an ill cruise passenger at sea.

Strokes Require FAST Medical Treatment – Not A Slow Boat to the Bahamas

All first year medical or nursing students know the “FAST” acronym regarding a stroke:  Facial drooping, Arm weakness, Speech difficulties and Time to call emergency services. It is universally recognized there is a limited time period in which to treat a stroke before a patient suffers irreversible, serious neurological deficits. Failures of the type alleged in this sad case typically appear to involve incompetent shipboard medical staff.

The Delayed Care of Christina Marie Ricci

We are aware of at least one other recent instance of delayed and substandard shipboard care and a refusal to request a Coast Guard medevac involving a young woman who sustained a stroke on a Carnival cruise ship.

In 2015, 24 year-old Christina Marie Ricci was a passenger aboard the Carnival Victory when she suffered a stroke just eight hours after the cruise left Miami. According to her mother’s account, instead of requesting a Coast Guard medevac, the Carnival cruise ship, which was off the coast of Florida, sailed on to Key West as her medical condition worsened. Once there, about six hours after her stroke, Christina was taken to a non-trauma care facility unit, where she was assessed and then eventually flown to Miami’s trauma hospital, Jackson Memorial. Her treating doctors at Jackson informed her family that they could have managed her medical care if the cruise line had timely requested a Coast Guard medevac from the ship.

Christina died 19 days later, without regaining consciousness.

That’s why most competent ship physicians will not hesitate to contact the nearest Coast Guard station and discuss a passenger’s symptoms with a Coast Guard flight surgeon in order to request a medevac.

I have never heard of the Coast Guard refusing to dispatch a helicopter to a cruise ship involving a victim of a stroke, heart attack or other serious medical emergency, particularly where the ship was less than 100 miles from a state-of-the-art stroke center in the U.S.

The Coast Guard Does Not Charge Cruise Passengers or Cruise Lines for Emergency Medical Care

The expenses of a Coast Guard medevac are never charged to the ill cruise passenger and are paid for 100% by the federal government. Cruise passengers do not have to have medical insurance in order to reimburse the Coast Guard. The Coast Guard also do not charge the cruise line for the medevac of their ill guests who require emergency care ashore, which makes the alleged failure of the medical staff aboard the M/S Zuiderdam even more inexplicable and troubling.

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Story credits: Sun Sentinel, Chicago Tribune, CBS 4 Miami (video).

Photo of M/S Zuiderdam – Copyright © 2008 K. Krallis, SV1XV – CC BY-SA 3.0, commons / wikimedia.

Photos of Ms. Gale – via Chicago Tribune, CBS 4 Miami.

Photo of Christina Marie Ricci – Lisa Ricci.

Medevac Photo Top – U.S. Coast Guard via Defense Visual Information Distribution Service (DVIDS).

Medevac Photo Bottom – Esquadra 751.

The United States Coast Guard medevaced a passenger from a NCL cruise ship yesterday off of Southern California.

The Norwegian Star requested assistance on Thursday morning from the Coast Guard after a 68-year-old man began experiencing problems related his heart.

The cruise ship was approximately 310 miles at sea but diverted toward shore in order to meet a Coast Guard helicopter which flew 200 miles west from San Diego.

The passenger was hoisted aboard the helicopter and flown to San Diego. Emergency medical services personnel then transferred the passenger to UC San Diego Medical Center.  The Coast Guard says the man was reported to be in stable condition.

Video credit: Video by Seaman Taylor BaconU.S. Coast Guard District 11 PADET San Diego via Defense Visual Information Distribution Service (DVIDS).

The United States Coast Guard medevaced an 80-year-old passenger who was injured on a Carnival cruise ship on Sunday.

The Carnival Ecstasy contacted the Coast Guard station in Charleston, South Carolina on Sunday, January 27, 2019 and stated that a female cruise guests had sustained a head injury after falling and required emergency medical treatment off of the ship. The Carnival Ecstasy was approximately 55 miles east of Savannah at 9:15 p.m. at the time of the call from the Carnival ship.

The Coast Guard station dispatched a MH-65 Dolphin rescue helicopter which arrived at the cruise ship at around 10:20 p.m. and hoisted the woman and a nurse and transported them to Memorial University Medical Center in Savannah. The woman’s current medical condition has not been disclosed.

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Video and photo credit: U.S. Coast Guard video by U.S. Coast Guard District 7 PADET Jacksonville / Air Station Savannah via Defense Visual Information Distribution Service (DVIDS)

The United States Coast Guard medevaced a 40 year-old female passenger from a Carnival cruise ship on Monday, January 21, 2019.

The Coast Guard medevaced a woman who was suffering from abdominal pains from the Carnival Pride when the cruise ship was around 50 miles southeast of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina yesterday.

The Coast Guard stations in Elizabeth City launched a helicopter which hoisted the ill passenger, her spouse, and a nurse and flew then to Carteret Health Care Medical Center in Morehead City.

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Video and photo credit: U.S. Coast Guard video by Air Station Elizabeth City via Defense Visual Information Distribution Service (DVIDS).

 

Yesterday, the Island Princess reportedly rescued six people on a disabled vessel as the cruise ship was sailing to Cartagena, Colombia, according to a crew member on the Island Princess.

The Island Princess had departed from Ocho Ríos, Jamaica and was sailing in the Caribbean Sea when it was notified that another vessel, the M/V Water Spirit, which is listed as an offshore supply/cargo vessel, was disabled with six Venezuelans aboard. The vessel had been reportedly disabled for two weeks.   The Island Princess then sent a rescue boat to the Water Spirit to bring the six people aboard the Princess cruise ship, where the cruise line examined them in the ship’s medical center and then fed them.

The Island Princess has since docked in Cartagena where the cruise ship intends to disembark them.

A passenger aboard the Island Princess subsequently posted a short video of the Princess rescue boat with the Water Spirit in the background.  Both the passenger and the crew member (who wishes to remain anonymous) described the disabled vessel as a fishing boat.

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Photo/video credit: anonymous crew member / @RodRaphael twitter page.

A lifeboat broke free from the Carnival Dream in the Gulf of Mexico as the Carnival cruise ships was sailing back to New Orleans on December 30, 2018, according to a travel agent on the ship.

Mum’s Travel Blog reported that a lifeboat sheered from the davit hook and fell into the water around 2:00 p.m. yesterday. Fortunately, there was no one in the lifeboat at the time.

The Carnival Dream was unable to raise the lifeboat and decided to abandon it at sea. There are comments posted on social media that the Coast Guard may later retrieve the lifeboat.

This is not the first time that a lifeboat fell off of a cruise ship.

Earlier this year,  a lifeboat on P&O’s Arcadia broke from its cabling and fell from its davits into the sea while the cruise ship was in Ponta Delgada, Azores.

Last year, a lifeboat broke free from Royal Caribbean’s Grandeur of the Seas in the port of Charleston due to a frayed cable.

In 2013, a cable to a lifeboat on Royal Caribbean’s Allure of the Seas  snapped while the cruise ship was in Nassau.

All of these incidents occurred when there were no passengers or crew members aboard the lifeboats. Unfortunately, most lifeboats failures occur as they are being improperly raised or lowered with crew members aboard them.

In September of 2016, two crew members were killed and other crew members were critically injured after a lifeboat fell from the Harmony of the Seas, which was docked in Marseilles, France. Five members of the ship’s navigation crew were on board during a drill when the lifeboat became detached and fell ten meters into the water.

Eight crew members were in a lifeboat during a drill in 2013 on the Thomson Majesty cruise ship when the lifeboat plunged 60 feet into the water. The lifeboat landed upside down. 5 of the crew were killed and 3 were injured.

In July of 2016, a rescue boat drill resulted in the boat falling into the water with four crew members from the Norwegian Breakaway while the cruise ship was in Bermuda. Two crew members were killed and two other seriously injured.

Between these two events, there have been several other lifeboat mishaps. In January of 2016, a cruise ship tender boat on the Balmoral operated by Fred Olsen Lines malfunctioned, during a scheduled boat training drill while the cruise ship was docked in Funchal, Madeira. Fortunately, no one was injured. In August 2015, an excursion boat from the Costa Mediterranea (photo right) apparently broke a cable while it was being lowered in Montenegro. Photographs sent to me shows what appears to be a lifeboat dangling on the side of the Costa cruise ship. In October 2014, a rescue boat on the Coral Princess was being raised on davits with two crew members aboard when a cable snapped and a crew member was killed.

There is a popular saying that lifeboat drills kill or seriously injure more people than save lives.

I first read about the Carnival Dream lifeboat failure in an article posted by the popular Cruise Hive blog.

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Photo credit: Mum’s Travel Blog and Heston Williams’ twitter page.

The United States Coast Guard medevaced a cruise passenger from a Royal Caribbean cruise ship on Wednesday night as the ship was returning to New York from a Caribbean cruise.

The Coast Guard launched a MH-60 Jayhawk rescue helicopter crew from Air Station Elizabeth City in North Carolina to medevac a 79-year-old man suffering from kidney failure, according to a statement by the Coast Guard.

The Anthem of the Seas was more than 400 miles southeast of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, when the Royal Caribbean cruise ship contacted the Coast Guard.

You can watch the video of the medevac here.

The Anthem had sailed from New York City, New York, leaving for December 10th to San Juan, Puerto Rico; St Thomas, US Virgin Islands; Basseterre, St. Kitts; St Johns, Antigua and Philipsburg, St. Maarten. It returned to New York City this morning.

The Coast Guard medevaced a 83 year-old woman, who was experiencing renal failure, from the Anthem of the Seas which was approximately 160 miles southeast of Elizabeth City, North Carolina in May of 2018. She was flown to North Carolina for emergency medical treatment. Before that, the Coast Guard medevaced a 71-year-old man from the Anthem of the Seas which was approximately 50 miles east of Ocean City, New Jersey, in April of this year.

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Video credit: U.S. Coast Guard Fifth District via Defense Visual Information Distribution Service (DVIDS)