Break Down the Barriers
By Commander Frank Sturm, U.S. Coast Guard
The pilot brought her HH-60 Jayhawk into a hover over the disabled fishing vessel as the 110-foot cutter stood by. About an hour earlier, the patrol boat's rigid-hull inflatable boat crew had transferred their medical technician to the fishing vessel to evaluate an injured fisherman. The fisherman was in critical condition, and the young Coast Guardsman recommended a helicopter medical evacuation.
The helo had arrived, but the trawler was rolling unpredictably with fishing gear extended, which made a rescue hoist dangerous. Unfortunately, the cutter's crew—unfamiliar with the helicopter's hoist limitations—had not advised the master to stow the outriggers in preparation for the pickup. Now, time was lost as the helo pilot radioed instructions to the fishing boat's master to stow them. Had the aviators and surface operators known more about the capabilities and limitations of each other's assets, the on-scene efforts might have gone smoother.