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Maritime And Coastguard Agency: Falmouth Coastguard co-ordinate assistance to acutely ill crewman West of the Azores

Falmouth Coastguard have been assisting in the rescue of a 33 year old injured crewman from the Cayman flagged, 2002 built, 271 ton motor yacht ‘Sagamar’ since Thursday afternoon.

The initial call indicated to the Coastguard that the yacht was about 1000 miles west of the Azores – 5 days sailing - and that they had an urgent medical emergency aboard. An open wound on the leg of the American crewman now needed medical advice as it had become dangerously infected coupled with possible blood poisoning, and the required drugs were not on board. The crewman had also become delirious but has now stabilised.

The crew indicated that the Azores was the original destination of the yacht. A medical connect call was made with hospital authorities at the Queen Alexander Hospital and it became very evident that the crewman, who was the medic on board the yacht, needed treatment.

Falmouth Coastguard agreed handover of the coordination of the incident to the United States Coastguard at Norfolk in Virginia, who has responsibility for that search and rescue region, but continued to monitor developments.

As the hours progressed it became evident that no other vessels were passing through that sea area which is particularly remote and earlier today Falmouth Coastguard contacted the Royal Navy who indicated that the warship ‘Liverpool’ may be passing through the area in a few hours. They have a helicopter on board which may have been able to evacuate the injured crewman as hi9s condition worsened.

However, as the day progressed it became clear that a Spanish warship the 'Castilla' carrying helicopters was very much closer than the ‘Liverpool’ at 300 miles south of the 'Sagamar' and may be able to come to the crewmans assistance sooner. The weather on scene at present is fair, with westerly force 4, a moderate sea and good visibility.

The Spanish authorities in Madrid at 2.30 pm this afternoon took over co-ordination of the incident after confirming to Falmouth Coastguard that their warship had indeed turned and was now heading in full speed to the 'Sagamar' The vessel should be on scene at midnight tonight (BST).

Henry Purbrick, Duty Watch Manager at Falmouth Coastguard said

"This has been a very long distance rescue, but one that will be completed late tonight in a highly professional and competent way, by all the authorities involved. On land a casualty may be attended to within 30 minutes but at sea the time is measured sometimes in hours or days with distances of hundreds of miles. Every agency has been mindful of the acute distress the patient is in and trying to expedite his rescue has been uppermost in everyone’s minds. We would like to thank all our global search and rescue partners, and particularly the Spanish for responding so promptly."


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