Wednesday morning February 26 2014 was uneventful onboard the Carnival Cruise line ship the Carnival Paradise until a 66 year old male passenger on the Lido Deck (Deck 10) suffered a heart attack. The ship was about 400 nautical miles southwest of Tampa and was returning from a five-night cruise to Grand Cayman and Cozumel, Mexico.
If the heart attack wasn’t enough, upon being stricken the passenger fell forward clobbering his forehead on the edge of the swimming pool. Later reports said the heart attack victim also suffered a concussion from colliding with the swimming pool. Other passengers surrounded the stricken person and soon the ship’s medical staff arrived to care for him. He was taken downstairs to the Medical Center on the 3rd deck and nobody heard anything else about the passenger or his status until mid- afternoon. It was then that the ship’s captain informed us over the intercom that the passenger was not doing better, that he could not wait for our arrival 18 hours later in Tampa, and that more sophisticated medical treatment was required to keep the passenger alive.
The inbound helicopter from Coast Guard Air Station Clearwater circled the ship first to assess the situation and no doubt make their plan for approaching the task
On arrival one Coast Guardsman stood in the door of the helicopter further determining how to approach the task. Click on the pictures to make them larger for better viewing
Safely positioned the Coasties onboard lowered a cable to the deck. The patient would be evacuated up this cable
Once the cable was secured to the ship's rail the stretcher was lowered to the ship's deck. A Coast Guardsman soon followed (I didn't get a picture of his descent)
First the patient's wife was loaded onto the helicopter
Next the patient is loaded onto the helicopter
Finally the Coast Guardsman who risked his life dangling from a cable above the ocean's surface to save this person's life was lifted back onto the helicopter
With everyone onboard and the hatch secured the pilot cranked up the helicopter to warp speed and beat a path for Tampa General Hospital.
With its precious cargo onboard the helicopter began to disappear into the eastern horizon with Tampa General Hospital in its sights. It was at about this time that the pod of dolphins and the magnificent frigatebird disappeared as well
The US Coast Guard Public Affairs office provided me with a URL for video they took of the rescue. It can be viewed at this link.