Pacific Tracker serves critical role in saving life of sailor in medical distress during a boat race

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The Pacific Tracker served a critical role in saving the life of a sailor who suffered medical complications during a sailboat race off the coast of California on July 10.

The Pacific Tracker had just finished a government mission and was conducting post mission operations when Captain Jeff Royer received a call from the U.S. Coast Guard explaining an emergency situation had developed in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, said Chief Mate A.J. Quinn.

The Coast Guard relayed that a crewmember on a sailboat named Perplexity had been suffering an uncontrollable nosebleed for the previous four days. The Perplexity was participating in the annual Pacific Cup, a sailboat race that goes from California to Hawaii.

A doctor consulted on the situation informed the Coast Guard that the injured person needed to get to a hospital as soon as possible, Quinn said.

The Pacific Tracker was about 200 miles from the Perplexity and the Tracker's crew was tasked with retrieving the injured sailor and transporting him for medical evacuation. Captain Royer immediately started making way to the sailboat at full speed. He informed the crew of the situation and had medical staff onboard prepare to treat the sailor, Quinn said.

When the Pacific Tracker arrived at the prearranged location, Captain Royer maneuvered the ship to make a lee to provide the safest, most stable conditions to deploy Chief Mate Quinn, Second Mate Ben Rowland and Second Assistant Engineer Dave Veldkamp in the fast rescue boat to transfer the patient from the sailboat to the fast rescue boat, then recover the fast rescue boat with the patient onto the Pacific Tracker.

The captain made arrangements to meet a Coast Guard helicopter off the coast of San Francisco, which was 570 miles east of the rescue location. The vessel then steamed full speed to meet the USCG helicopter in the predetermined location.

The voyage took more than a day to complete even at full speed and in favorable sea conditions. Once the Pacific Tracker reached the rendezvous point for the Coast Guard helicopter, the captain maneuvered the vessel to comply with the instructions given by the helicopter crew. The helicopter then deployed a rescue swimmer onto the deck of the Pacific Tracker with the helicopter rescue winch.

The Coast Guard instructed the patient and ship crew about how they planned on conducting the transfer from ship to helicopter. Everybody followed the instructions and the patient was transferred safely to the helicopter in the rescue basket on the helicopter winch.

The Pacific Tracker is a government-owned tracking and telemetry ship in service to the Missile Defense Agency. The vessel is operated by TOTE Services. American Maritime Officers represents all licensed officers aboard the ship.

Second Mate Ben Rowland, Chief Mate A.J. Quinn and Second Assistant Engineer Dave Veldkamp operated the fast rescue boat to retrieve the sailor and return him to the Pacific Tracker for a medical evacuation by the U.S. Coast Guard.

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