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Pacific Ocean: Three 14.300 MHz Amateur Radio “Networks” respond to an urgent “PAN PAN” call for emergency assistance from David KF7GWI, one of five crewmen aboard the (36) foot recreational vessel, “S/V Wind Child”, enroute to the Marquesas Islands.

April 3, 2010 by Rex J. Weinheimer KC5AGO, Stonewall, Texas

The Intercontinental Traffic Network (INTERCON), the Maritime Mobile Service Network (MMSN), and the Pacific Seafarers Network (PACSEA) are three volunteer amateur radio “Networks” which sequentially conduct radio watches for up to eighteen hours per day, 365 days per year on HF 14.300 MHz USB; the HF radio frequency now designated world-wide as a “Center of Activity” for emergency communications in the 20 Meter Amateur Radio Band by the International Amateur Radio Union, Regions I, II, and III

PACIFIC OCEAN Pararescuemen from the 129th Rescue Wing California Air National Guard jump from the rear door of a Coast Guard C-130 Hercules airplane approximately 1,400 miles southwest of San Diego April 1, 2010.The Coast Guard and Air National Guard worked together to respond to medevac an injured 57-year-old man by dropping four pararescuemen, an inflatable boat and other rescue and survival equipment. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Henry G. Dunphy.

At approximately 10:09 AM EDT, on Thursday 04/01/2010 David KF7GWI amateur radio operator aboard the S/V Wind Child transmitted a “PAN PAN” on 14.300 MHz. The call was heard by “Network” member Bill KI4MMZ of Flagler Beach, FL. Immediately KI4MMZ established contact with KF7GWI and determined the vessels position as being in the Pacific Ocean at (09°-30’N x 126°-47’W), approximately 1,400 miles SW of San Diego, CA. KF7GWI reported a medical emergency with request for immediate assistance. At 12:45 UTC, a 57 y/o male crewmember had sustained a traumatic injury; an internal and external crushing to his throat, extreme laceration to the tongue, and a deep puncture wound to the back of the skull. The patient lost consciousness and had ceased respirations for a period. KI4MMZ quickly established a telephone patch with USCG Sector Alameda, CA and reported the details of the incident.

Within a matter of minutes, USCG Sector Alameda had a Flight Surgeon on the telephone with KI4MMZ. The Flight Surgeon remotely assessed the patient’s condition, asking pertinent questions and receiving responses as passed thru amateur radio “Network” relays with KF7GWI responding from S/V Wind Child.

The USCG determined that a Med-Evac Mission was necessary and swiftly set into motion a very complex plan to rescue the injured crewman and deliver him to a medical facility for treatment as soon as possible. The rescue event is ongoing and hopefully will be successfully concluded by Sunday night.

The amateur radio “Networks” established and maintained a recurring hourly communication schedule with the S/V Wind Child. Amateur radio operators from the “Networks” continued to procure the orderly flow of updated patient information and timely position reports which in turn were passed to the USCG and Flight Surgeon via telephone so that last minute plans could be adjusted.

The USCG and California Air National Guard, jointly communicating with the assistance of “Network” amateur radio operators providing the long-distance communications link to the S/V Wind Child, were successful in delivering the four Para-Jumpers, along with their inflatable boat, rescue, and survival gear to the S/V Wind Child. Per the “AMVERS” alert issued by the USCG, HF radio contact had earlier been established by “Network” radio operators with the M/V Cap Palmerston which had diverted her course and was headed to the S/V Wind Child to assist in the rescue. The “Network’s” hourly communication schedules were downgraded to a “listening watch” after the fact was made known that the Para-Jumpers were successfully aboard the S/V Wind Child.

The patient and the four Para-Jumpers were successfully transferred to the M/V Cap Palmerston. The ship is currently headed to San Diego. On Easter Sunday, the M/V Cap Palmerston will rendezvous with a task group of (2) MH-130 Hercules fixed-wing tankers and (2) HH-60 Hawk helicopters approximately 500NM west of San Diego, CA. The helicopters will pick-up the patient and the four Para-Jumpers, and then transport the patient back to San Diego, CA for further medical treatment.

We heartily applaud the professional efforts of the USCG, the Para-Jumpers, the California Air National Guard, the M/V Cap Palmerston, and the many amateur radio operators that assisted in, or stood silently ready to assist in this seamless and successful, combined agency rescue at sea. Kudos for David KF7GWI whom as late as January 5, 2010 received his amateur radio license especially for this voyage of S/V Wind Child; “David felt one person on board should have a license for just such an eventuality!” Oh yes, one last note of interest, Satellite Telephone service was unobtainable at the scene of the incident.



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