A Course Diversion

I was sleeping when I heard the dings and an announcement asking the medical team to report to a stateroom on Deck 6.  A couple of hours later the captain came on the PA system and apologized for the early morning call but needed registered type A+ blood donors to come to the front desk to provide blood for a critically ill patient.

I felt cold because 14 months ago that was me needing blood and it was my cruise mates coming to my rescue.  I felt bad that I could not contribute, but I can’t because of some the places I’ve bee posted for USAID.  I am not considered a particularly “safe” blood donor.  They were looking for younger people anyway.  When I was in the position of needing blood they rejected people 70.  I understand from people who came forward this time the same rule applied.

An hour or so later the captain came on again asking if there was a general surgeon on board who had a current license and was still practicing.  They wanted a second opinion.  Throughout the day the Captain kept us informed.  We were changing course and would rendezvous with a helicopter from Coast Guard Air Station Astoria in a few hours, once we got about 250 miles closer to shore.  That would be at about 8 PM.

The Captain canceled his coffee talk to the ship to remain on the bridge, but would “take a rain check” and join us for coffee the next day before we sail into Victoria.

Later in the afternoon the Captain told us the Coast Guard had revised the rendezvous because they had a longer-range chopper.  We would be getting a visit from the Coast Guard at around 4 PM and they were clearing the aft deck for the operation.  At 3 PM a Coast Guard J-hawk appeared on the horizon, circled the ship, hovered over the aft and made the pickup.

As our fellow passenger was pulled into the helicopter a big cheer went up from the ship.

The Captain got on the PA and thanked his crew, especially the medical, security and deck staffs, and the USCG for the safe extraction of the patient, who is headed for a hospital in Astoria, Oregon.

True to his word the next morning Captain Paul Adams gave us a debrief on the operation and answered questions. He pushed the ship to its top speed of about 20 knots battling headwinds and the current.

One thought on “A Course Diversion

  1. Rich, great commentary and photos. Excellent insight provided by the Captain into the complexity of an operation such as this. “Lay People” generally have no clue because “Hollywood” necessarily omits the ever-necessary detail. From my Navy days, I was tower qualified to run helicopter operations for replenishment operations and the almost incomprehensible variables of ship, aircraft, sea, weather and crew interactions were complex to the point of being description-proof.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.