NAS Whidbey SAR medically evacuates Orcas Island man

A Search and Rescue team from Naval Air Station Whidbey Island conducted a medical evacuation on Sunday, Dec. 11 from Orcas Island Airport to Providence Regional Medical Center in Everett.

The SAR crew of five launched at 11:35 p.m. and landed at the island airport 15 minutes later. After landing, the search and rescue medical technician met with the ambulance crew and once complete with the medical turnover, everyone was loaded onto the helicopter and they took off at 12:05 a.m. The crew attempted to transport the patient to St. Joseph Medical Center in Bellingham, but because low ceilings and blowing snow and rain they were unable to navigate there and changed their destination to Providence. The aircraft landed at 1 a.m. and the patient was off loaded and delivered to a higher level of care.

“Weather posed the biggest issue for the mission, blowing snow and heavy rain in areas made navigating the islands difficult, but the crew worked flawlessly together in order to get the patient to a higher level of care,” said Petty Officer First Class Justin Colon.

This was the 12th MEDEVAC of 2016 for NAS Whidbey Island SAR, which has also conducted 13 search missions, and 23 rescue operations this year.

The Navy SAR unit operates three MH-60S helicopters from NAS Whidbey Island as search and rescue platforms for the EA-18G aircraft as well as other squadrons and personnel assigned to the installation. The base also has an agreement to assist Washington state and the surrounding areas with medical evacuations and search and rescue activities if other assets are unavailable.

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