A rescue swimmer from air station Sitka loading the 68-year-old captain of Lady Cyprus on a rescue litter (photo courtesy of United States Coast Guard Alaska )

A Coast Guard helicopter crew from Air Station Sitka medevaced a man in cardiac distress from West Crawfish Inlet on Thursday (8-19-21).   

Watchstanders in Sitka received a call around 1:30 p.m. from the F/V Minke. Crew from the Minke relayed that the 68-year-old captain of another boat, the F/V Lady Cyprus, was experiencing a possible heart attack. 

West Crawfish Inlet is around 16 miles south of Sitka. Due to the surrounding high terrain, the inlet is considered a “communication dead zone” and crew from the Lady Cyprus were unable to contact the Coast Guard  themselves.

Lt. John Orthman is a Jayhawk pilot for Air Station Sitka. He said the nearby good Samaritans were an essential part of the rescue. 

“It still doesn’t cease to amaze me how much everyone is looking out for one another in Southeast Alaska,” said Orthman. “If the  Minke wasn’t able to relay that message, I think the crew probably would have had to driven out to outside waters in order to get ahold of us at that point.”

By the time the helicopter crew reached the scene  5-7 minutes after the call was placed , another larger fishing vessel,  Beaufort Sea, was in the process of transferring the patient to their boat in anticipation of the hoist. According to Orthman, the captain was conscious and alert, but in need of medical attention. 

“We hoisted our rescue swimmer down to the Beaufort Sea to assess the captain. He very quickly package the patient up and we recovered both the the captain of the lady Cyprus and our rescue swimmer and then transported them back to Sitka where EMS was already awaiting us,” said Orthman.

EMS quickly transferred him to the hospital where he received treatment.