Video of a dramatic Coast Guard rescue shows what happens if there's an emergency on a cruise ship 100 miles offshore
The Coast Guard rescued a man experiencing stroke symptoms from the Celebrity Eclipse on Friday.
The 2,000-plus passenger cruise ship was over 100 miles away from the Oregon coast.
A video of the evacuation provides a glimpse into what happens during a medical crisis at sea.
The US Coast Guard rescued a man experiencing stroke symptoms onboard the Celebrity Eclipse on Friday during an emergency evacuation that was captured on video.
The 2,000-plus passenger cruise ship was over 100 miles off the coast of Oregon when the Coast Guard helicopter arrived, the Coast Guard said. As they hovered above the ship, the aircrew lowered a stretcher down to the helipad while a crowd of passengers watched from the balcony above.
The man was then flown to the nearby city of Warrenton, where he was then transferred onto a Life Flight helicopter and taken to the OHSU Hospital in Portland, the Coast Guard said in a tweet on Sunday.
While medical emergencies may be the last thing cruise-goers want to consider when planning their vacations, the video offers a glimpse into the emergency rescue procedures followed during life-or-death emergencies at sea.
—USCGPacificNorthwest (@USCGPacificNW) May 21, 2023
The US Coast Guard and Celebrity Cruises did not respond to Insider's requests for additional details about medical evacuation procedures.
So far this year, the US Coast Guard has medically evacuated over a dozen cruise ship passengers via helicopter, according to USCG press releases. In April, San Diego aircrew rescued four separate passengers from three different cruise ships in just 24 hours, the Coast Guard said in a statement.
The reasons cited for the recent cruise ship medical evacuations include symptoms of strokes, heart attacks, kidney failure, progressive acute illness, respiratory failure, pneumonia, and septic shock.
The rescue missions don't always go smoothly. Earlier this month, a Coast Guard helicopter nearly crashed into the ocean during the medical evacuation of a 76-year-old passenger who was experiencing heart attack-like symptoms aboard the cruise ship Carnival Dream.
What types of medical facilities are available on cruise ships?
Cruise ships operating in the US must adhere to medical guidelines set by The American College of Emergency Physicians, which include rules regarding the qualifications, experience levels, certifications, and skills of the doctors and clinical staff onboard.
For example, physicians employed by the cruise ship must have "competent skill levels" in emergency cardiovascular care as well as minor surgical skills, and at least one physician must be certified in advanced trauma life support. All cruise ship clinical staff, including nurses, must have at least three years of post-graduate experience.
If you receive medical treatment on a cruise ship, you may end up footing the bill — most regular health insurance policies do not cover cruise ship medical services. However, some Medicare plans may cover the costs if you recieve medically necessary treatment no further than six hours away from a US port. Otherwise, your best bet is to purchase cruise insurance.
When a passenger requires treatment beyond the capabilities of the ship's medical center, they will either be evacuated by air or transferred after the ship has reached the nearest port. The way in which cruise-goers are transported off the ship depends on "the weather, the location and the assets available," Dr. Joe Scott, senior director of fleet medical operations at Carnival Corporation, told USA Today.
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