An Irish Coast Guard helicopter was sent to meet a fishing trawler three times before they could eventually airlift a seriously ill crew member to hospital.
The fisherman suffered a heart attack on board a French fishing vessel off the Clare coast but refused twice to be airlifted to hospital.
The drama began at around 4.30pm yesterday when the Irish Coast Guard was requested to assist the captain of a 98-foot French fishing vessel who had reported that a crew member had suffered a heart attack. The vessel was around 160 kilometres off the Clare coast at the time.
After reaching the vessel, Rescue 115’s winchman/paramedic was lowered onto the deck and carried out an assessment of the patient. It’s understood that a defibrillator was used and the man was successfully resuscitated.
The crew member is then believed to have become very confused and distressed and refused to travel on the helicopter. The helicopter paramedic was left on board the trawler while the helicopter returned to Shannon Airport.
At around 8.30pm, the helicopter crew was tasked to return to the trawler but was turned away for a second time.
The Aran Islands RNLI lifeboat was launched later in the night with a doctor on board and sent to rendezvous with the trawler. However, it wasn’t possible to transfer the doctor onto the trawler so both vessel made their way towards the Aran Islands to meet the helicopter.
The patient was finally airlifted from the trawler onto the helicopter just north of the Aran Islands at around 5.30am. The crew had intended flying the man to University Hospital Galway but was unable to land there due to poor visibility.
A Coast Guard spokesman confirmed: “The patient was successfully airlifted from the trawler on the third attempt just north of the Aran Islands. Rescue 115 was unable to land in Galway due to poor weather in the area so flew to Shannon Airport instead. The operation was successfully concluded shortly after 6.00am.”
Aran Islands RNLI Coxswain Mairtín O’Flaithearta said: “The conditions out there last night were challenging due to the height of the vessel and sea conditions. The volunteer crew members drew on all their training and their joint exercises with the Coast Guard to aid in a successful rescue. We wish the fisherman a speedy recovery.”
The operation was coordinated by watch officers at the Irish Coast Guard’s marine rescue sub centre on Valentia Island in Kerry.