Helicopter rescue for cruise passenger 200 km offshore

RACQ CQ Rescue landed on the deck of 311-m (1,020-ft) cruise ship 200km offshore early on 17 November to airlift an ill American tourist to Mackay Base Hospital, Queensland, Australia.

In what the service described as a ‘marathon’ five-hour task, the Mackay-based rescue helicopter took off just after 03:00 hrs and had to refuel at Hamilton Island before meeting the Royal Caribbean cruise ship Voyager of the Seas near White Tip Reef, some 185 km (115 miles) east of Hamilton Island, at 05:30 hrs.

A 72-year-old tourist from the US was suffering severe abdominal pain and required transport to hospital. It is believed the patient was only halfway into her trip as the Voyager of the Seas departed Sydney on 13 November on an eight-night Queensland cruise.

An RACQ CQ Rescue air crewman said the cruise ship was travelling a long way offshore and had to make its way to the outer reef to rendezvous with the rescue helicopter at first light. RACQ CQ Rescue, with a rescue crewman and critical care paramedic onboard, landed on the front helideck of the huge ship and did not shut down as the medical staff went below deck to retrieve the patient.

Within 20 minutes, the aircraft was airborne. After refuelling again at Hamilton Island, the patient arrived safely at Mackay Base Hospital at 07:40 hrs.

The rescue helicopter returned to base at 08:20 hrs.

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