San Juan Island emergency services personnel and a US Coast Guard search and rescue team conducted joint training in Friday Harbor on Saturday, May 1, 2010. The exercise included practicing patient transfer procedures to and from an airborne helicopter, and simulating loading critically ill passengers and necessary equipment onto the helicopter.
Personnel from San Juan Island EMS, Friday Harbor Fire Department Fireboat Confidence, San Juan Island Fire Department, and the Sheriff’s Dive Team all participated. A US Coast Guard MH-65C helicopter from Coast Guard Air Station Port Angeles joined the training crewed by LT Larry Santos, LTJG Kenneth Walton and AET1 Chas Lowmater.
The training included a review of the patient transfer equipment on the MH-65C helicopter and the procedures that would be used to transfer a patient between the helicopter and the Sheriff’s boat/marine ambulance Guardian, the Confidence, or an otherwise inaccessible island location. The USCG helicopter can also respond to evacuate a critically ill patient during extremely inclement weather when all other modes of transport are unavailable.
“It was very useful to have this training experience shared by all the participating organizations and the Coast Guard as we approach the summer boating and vacation season,” said EMS Marine Officer Robert Benton. “Experience around an airborne helicopter, especially its strong downdraft, will help all the emergency services personnel be better prepared to respond to marine emergencies.”
“This interagency experience has been very useful,” said Harry See of the Fireboat Confidence crew and the San Juan Island Fire Department. “We all thank San Juan Island EMS for arranging this special training.”