Cruise Ship Emergencies: Coast Guard Medevacs Second Passenger in a Day in Alaska

The Alaskan Coast Guard has evacuated two passengers from two separate cruise ships in less than 24 hours, after both suddenly required emergency medical attention.

The two passengers were rescued by Coast Guard personnel on Tuesday and Wednesday—the first by boat and the second by helicopter, the Coast Guard reported.

The first rescue involved a 61-year-old female who was suffering from cardiac problems, a press release explained. The woman was a passenger aboard the Island Princess cruise ship, which was sailing near Bligh Island in the Prince William Sound at the time of the emergency.

The press release explained that the Coast Guard received a call from the Island Princess at 1:49 p.m. Tuesday, after which responders decided she should be taken off the ship to receive medical attention.

A 45-foot Coast Guard Valdez boat sailed to the ship to bring the woman back to the mainland, where she was met by emergency personnel "for further transport to higher medical care," the press release explained. The woman was in a stable condition when transported, the Coast Guard said.

Senior Chief Petty Officer Erik Patterson, a command duty officer in Sector Anchorage, said the service was "thankful to be able to assist this woman with such immediacy." He explained that the "station's location to the cruise ship allowed us to be on scene and assist as quickly as possible, allowing us to play a major part in saving this woman's life when timing is everything."

The next day, the Coast Guard was again called on to evacuate an unwell woman from another cruise ship. The 62-year-old passenger was rescued from a the Nieuw Amsterdam vessel near the city of Skagway in southeastern Alaska, the service explained on Twitter.

An MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter was dispatched from a Coast Guard air station in the city of Sitka to medevac the ill woman. The Coast Guard did not provide any information about the passenger or why she needed to be evacuated from the Nieuw Amsterdam.

Helicopter rescues are regularly used to evacuate cruise ship passengers that fall ill, given the speed required to reach vessels that may be far out to sea. Last month, for example, a helicopter rescue was required to take a woman off the RMS Queen Mary cruise ship, which at the time as some 435 miles off the coast of Ireland.

This was the second time in eight months that the Irish Coast Guard has rescued a sick passenger from the RMS Queen Mary using a helicopter team.

Helicopter, coast guard, rescue, cruise ship
This file photo shows a rescue team boarding a Coast Guard helicopter to search for survivors in the aftermath of Hurricane Ivan on September 17, 2004 in Orange Beach, Alabama. Getty/Scott Olson