American tourist airlifted from cruise ship near Mackay
RACQ CQ Rescue yesterday braced against windy conditions to winch an ill American tourist from a cruise ship south of Mackay.
RACQ CQ Rescue aircrewman Russell James said the winch retrieval of the patient, a 70-year-old Florida man, from the deck of the ship was made more difficult by gusty 20-30 knot winds and rough seas.
"The cruise ship was noticeably rocking from side to side due to the weather conditions, and that made it a little more challenging for our crew," he said.
The helicopter rescue group was tasked to the mission after 11 am on Wednesday and flew to meet the large vessel about 170km north of Rockhampton with a doctor and Critical Care Paramedic on board.
The man was travelling on board the Seven Seas Mariner, a 216-metre long cruise ship, which departed Sydney on December 15 on a 16-night voyage headed to Bali.
He is believed to have taken ill overnight with a cardiac condition. The cruise ship was due to dock at Airlie Beach on Wednesday, December 19, with more than 600 passengers on board.
The rescue was required to be completed while the cruise ship was travelling at a speed of about 10 knots. A rescue crewman and paramedic were winched down onto the deck of the ship, and the ill tourist had been secured into the stretcher and was winched up into the hovering helicopter accompanied by the paramedic then followed by the rescue crewman.
This incident is the second time recently the Mackay-based rescue helicopter has retrieved an acutely ill patient from a cruise ship.
The man was in a stable condition when he was flown to Mackay Airport, landing about 2.30pm, where ambulance crews met him and transferred to Mackay Base Hospital.