PATUXENT RIVER NAS, Md. — A crew from Naval Air Station Patuxent River’s Search and Rescue (SAR) squadron was called into action Jan. 20 for medical evacuation (MEDEVAC) of an injured mariner in the Chesapeake Bay.
Working with mission partners in U.S. Coast Guard National Capital Region, the Pax River “SAR Dogs” quickly made their way north of the air station after getting the call of an injured person aboard a ship docked at the Cove Point Terminal near the gas liquefaction facility in Lusby, Maryland. Weather conditions had begun to deteriorate, and winds, rain, and swift currents made other methods of reaching the injured mariner difficult.
After assessing the conditions, the Pax SAR crew was airborne and on their way.
“Calls for MEDEVAC are fairly uncommon; the majority of the time we will get calls for mariners that have been lost at sea,” said Lt. Wendy “LOSA” Zehner, Patuxent River SAR Plans & Training officer and pilot of the helicopter during the MEDEVAC call. “In a case like this, Maryland State Police Trooper aircraft or Coast Guard usually take the calls, but due to weather, we became the primary asset.”
Once SAR arrived at Cove Point, SAR medical technician Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Parker Ward lowered down to the terminal via hoist to assess the patient, who was reported to have fallen and sustained injuries as well as being rendered temporarily unconscious. Despite the increasingly poor weather, Ward was able to quickly reach the injured party.
“My training prepared me for the conditions we encountered,” said Ward. “It felt like just another day and we were happy to just be there doing our jobs.”
The patient, who was able to move once SAR arrived, opted to hoist via the SAR helicopter’s rescue basket into the aircraft, where it was determined that the best option was to transport him to Saint Mary’s MEDSTAR hospital.
Back at NAS Patuxent River, Naval Air Crewman (Helicopter) 2nd Class Brian Mahoney, SAR Squadron Duty Officer (SDO) at the time, coordinated between the SAR crew and St. Mary’s MEDSTAR hospital, alerting them to expect SAR’s arrival on their MEDEVAC helicopter pad. Upon landing at the hospital, Ward transferred the patient to the nurses there and the SAR crew returned to NAS Patuxent River.
The call was representative of the high standard NAS Patuxent River’s SAR crews are held to, as well as their impact in the community.
“Even though we don’t get calls in the community like this one very often, our SAR crews are always on call when help is needed, military or civilian,” said Cmdr. Ken Sheffield, NAS Patuxent River Air Operations officer. “And the exemplary actions by pilot Lt. Wendy ‘LOSA’ Zehner, copilot Lt. Conor ‘Dom’ Jones, Crew Chief and SAR Med Tech HM2 Parker Ward, Rescue Swimmer and Hoist Operator AWS2 Joseph Davidson, and SDO AWS2 Brian Mahoney prove that.”