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SV Chelsea B

Medical Emergency - May 23, 2002

On May 23, 2002, at 2215z, SV Chelsea B, Shirley KB6OFC, came to the net frequency reporting that her husband is experiencing chest pains and needs medical assistance. At this time the Chelsea B was in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico, about 2 days south of New Orleans, LA. Shirley was tending to the ship and her husband alone and was extremely tired.

Dave KF4ZPN, in Bradenton, FL, took the initial call and patched her through to the USCG. Arrangements were made to divert a commercial freighter, MV Kiowa Spirit, to her position and pick-up her husband. The freighter would then head north towards New Orleans, where a USCG helicopter would intercept the freighter and airlift the patient to hospital.

At 0100z, the net received information that the MV Kiowa Spirit had arrived and taken the husband off the Chelsea B and was heading north. It was estimated that the freighter would be within helicopter range in about 4 hours. The net later received confirmation that the patient had arrived at the West Jefferson Medical Center, in New Orleans, and was receiving medical help.

The USCG now required the net to maintain a communication schedule with the SV Chelsea B, in order to track her progress to New Orleans, and in case she required further assistance. For the next 24 hours, the net maintained contact with her and updated the USCG with her position and condition.

On May 24, at 22:00z, the net receives information from the Chelsea B that she has direct VHF contact with the USCG Cutter Decisive at 27-24.0N x 090-13.7W. She will now follow the cutter to New Orleans. We later received confirmation from USCG-New Orleans that the Chelsea B arrived at a marina safe and sound.

Here is a letter from Shirley that the net received a few days later:

I hope you will be able to post this to all of the kind gentlemen who helped Chelsea B come safely into port.

You have my gratitude forever and even longer. I have followed the net with other emergencies, never dreaming that I might be the subject of such a happening. The fact that you were all there and making sure that someone was in touch with me as bands were changing was a huge tribute to your skill and caring.

The Coast Guard got me into Cypress Cover Marina in Venice where I stayed a day to gather charts (gratis from the Coast Guard) and get prepared for the trip to New Orleans. Two days later, after following excellent advice, I am now in South Shore Harbor Marina on Lake Pontchartrain.

I am hoping that Joe will be released from the hospital today. We will have a conference with his doctors and find out for sure the extent of the problem. He definitely did have some sort of cardiac episode and perhaps a small stroke at the same time. He is slowly recovering the use of his right arm and hand and prospects seem good. He, too, thanks you profusely and wonders how it feels to know that you have been instrumental in saving someone's life.

May all of the help can thoughtfulness you have given me be returned to you 100 times over.

A very grateful sailor,

Shirley Larsen


S/V Chelsea