Dramatic rescue off Ballina coast for man suffering stroke
A POLISH man suffering a stroke was yesterday winched by helicopter from a large cargo vessel, 140km off the coast of Ballina, and flown to the Gold Coast University Hospital in a stable condition.
The Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter was tasked to the medical evacuation yesterday morning after reports a male crew member on board the Norwegian registered vessel Tarago was ill.
The 67,000 tonne ship, which transports cars, was en route to Brisbane from Auckland, New Zealand.
The Australian Search and Rescue Centre tasked the helicopter and a rendezvous point, 80 nautical miles out to sea, was arranged for the patient to be winched.
Westpac Helicopter Critical Care Paramedic Lloyd Herbert said the difficulty of the extraction, given the speed of the moving vessel, was testimony to the pilot and crewmen and a demonstration of the team's training.
"Everything was set in motion with the ship's captain so everyone was on the same page and it all went pretty smooth," he said.
"We extricated the patient in around 20 minutes from when we arrived."
The patient was stabilised before being secured in a winch stretcher, extracted and transported to the Gold Coast University Hospital, arriving about 2pm.
Mr Herbert said given the patient's condition, air transfer was critical.
"If a helicopter retrieval service was not available with winch capacity then the patient would have arrived in Brisbane docks around 7am the next morning and then been transported by ambulance to the nearest hospital," he said.
"(The additional wait) could have been quite detrimental."
The Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter is a not-for-profit community organisation that relies on donations.
To find out more or donate, go to www.helirescue.com.au