A Maryland State Police helicopter crew combined their expertise with the abilities of their aircraft last night to successfully hoist a person needing prompt hospital care from a cruise ship underway in the southern section of the Chesapeake Bay.
Shortly before 9:30 p.m. yesterday, the United States Coast Guard – Sector Baltimore was notified by Royal Caribbean Cruise Line that they had a passenger requiring immediate medical evacuation. Sector Baltimore requested the assistance of the Maryland State Police Aviation Command to perform an aerial hoist from The Grandeur of the Sea to provide medical care to one of their passengers and transport the man to the nearest hospital. The Grandeur of the Sea was located in the Chesapeake Bay approximately 10 miles southwest of Tangier Island and was traveling at approximately 6.2 knots. The Coast Guard requested Maryland State Police Aviation Command helicopter assistance because Trooper 7, stationed at St. Mary’s County Airport, was the closest aircraft to the ship.
The crew of Trooper 7 launched immediately and headed toward Tangier Island. When they arrived over the ship, the helicopter crew communicated with the crew of The Grandeur of the Sea who advised they were preparing the upper deck starboard side to use as the hoisting area. The crew from Trooper 7 prepared for a challenging hoist using the advanced technology aboard the AW-139 aircraft. While working with the crew of The Grandeur of the Sea, the flight crew began the process of hoisting the patient from the ship. When the patient was secured in the aircraft, the State Police flight crew provided advanced medical care and flew an adult male patient needing cardiac care to Peninsula Regional Medical Center.
State Police Aviation Command crews have conducted several hoists of patients off cargo ships, but they believe this is the first hoist of a patient from a cruise ship. The Maryland State Police Aviation Command has served Maryland citizens since 1970, and operates a fleet of ten helicopters from seven bases throughout Maryland on a 24/7/365 basis. Missions include medevac, law enforcement, search & rescue, homeland security, and disaster assessment. The success of rescues performed by the Aviation Command depends a great deal on the cooperative effort of local fire, rescue, EMS, law enforcement agencies, and our partners in the United States Coast Guard.