Before 11 AM on March 29th the rescue boat “Ruth Opsahl” was contacted by the pilot aboard the cruise ship “Ocean Countess” and asked to carry out an evacuation of a sick patient from the ship. The rescue crew contacted AMK in Bod? (the alarm central) to get ambulance personnel for the mission.
The AMK staffs confirmed that they were familiar with the assignment and sent an ambulance and two ambulance workers who joined the rescue boat.
The further course of events as described in the The Norwegian Sea Rescue?s internal report after the incident is as follows:
It was decided that the patient, who was very ill and unconscious, had to be transported from the cruise ship to the rescue boat through the port hole which was in the front of the ship.
The ambulance workers brought a stretcher from the rescue boat and entered the cruise ship. The unconscious patient was strapped to the stretcher, but no life jacket was put on her.
When the ambulance workers and staff from the cruise ship tried to transport the stretcher with the patient from the cruise ship to the rescue boat, the two vessels slid apart causing that the patient fell into the sea.
The transfer occurred in seven knots and the vessels were not attached to each other. This procedure is regularly performed by the rescue boats, both on ambulance missions and when transporting pilots.
The patient lay in the water for approximately three to four minutes before she was lifted into the rescue boat and wrapped in woolen blankets. The rescue boat headed straight to Bod? where the ambulance took the patient to the nearest hospital.
The incident and The Norwegian Sea Rescue?s internal report have led to routine changes that were immediately implemented. Among other things, the procedures for Medevac (medical evacuation) is revised, including that the transfer of a patient on a stretcher shall not be performed when the vessels are moving, unless the rescue boat can be moored up to the vessel.
The Norwegian Sea Rescue has 41 rescue boats which carried out 124 ambulance missions in 2010.
Head of the rescue department in The Norwegian Sea Rescue: Hans Skaar +47 918 89 927 (for interviews)
Head of Communication Ernst Larsen: +47 909 86 799 (only regarding facts)
Norwegian Sea Rescue
We are a humanitarian, voluntary, membership-based organisation. Our object is four-fold: to save life, protect material assets, safeguard the coastal environment and pursue information work. In ensuring that our rescue boats are ready and able to continue saving life and material assets, we depend on membership fees, private gifts, contributions, support and donations.
To read more – follow this link: http://www.nssr.no/Om+oss/English