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At 13h00, Saturday, 27 November, NSRI Durban Airborne Sea Rescue (ASR) crew, SA Air Force (SAAF) 15 Squadron pilots and flight crew and Netcare 911 rescue paramedics departed the SAAF Durban 15 Squadron Air Force Base aboard a SAAF Oryx helicopter to rendezvous with a bulk carrier motor vessel to airlift a critically ill patient to hospital.

Lorenzo Taverna-Turisan, NSRI Durban deputy station commander, said:

MRCC (Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre) alerted Durban ASR and Netcare 911 on Friday evening to prepare for the mission.

The vessel was still deep sea off the East coast of Africa at the time and making best speed towards the South African coastline.

A WC Government Health EMS duty doctor had evaluated the patients condition by satellite phone and medical advice for treatment for the patient was given to the ships medics by the EMS duty doctor and it was deemed necessary for the patient to be evacuated to an appropriate medical facility as soon as possible.

NSRI Richards Bay were placed on alert. Marine communications were assisted by Telkom Maritime Radio Services.

The SAAF Oryx helicopter rendezvoused with the motor vessel 45 nautical miles off-shore of Richards Bay and an NSRI rescue swimmer and 2 Netcare 911 rescue paramedics were hoisted from the helicopter onto the ships deck.

The patient, a 34 year old Indonesian man, was taken into the care of the rescue crew from the ships medics.

The patient was secured into a specialised stretcher and accompanied by a rescue paramedic the patient was hoisted into the helicopter followed by the 2 remaining rescuers.

Watch: Critically ill patient airlifted to hospital - East Coast

NSRI Durban_Patient airlifted to hospital_East Coast 3
Image: NSRI

Sea conditions were rough but manageable. Strong winds prevailed throughout the operation.

Advanced Life Support medical procedures were applied to the patient by the rescue paramedics and the patient was airlifted directly to a Durban hospital in a critical condition.

The rescue team and all services involved are keeping the patient and his family and colleagues in our thoughts while the doctors and nurses continue with medical care for the patient.

NSRI EOC (Emergency Operations Centre), NSRI Durban, NSRI Ballito and NSRI Richards Bay duty controllers, Netcare 911 duty controllers, WC Government Health EMS control, Telkom Maritime Radio Services, TNPA (Transnet National Ports Authority), Port Health Authority and Police Sea Borderline Control assisted MRCC in logistics and coordination for this operation.

NSRI Durban_Patient airlifted to hospital_East Coast
Image: NSRI
Image - NETCARE 911
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