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Bristow Australia Airlifts 88-Year-Old Woman from Cruise Ship

November 07, 2012

After an 88-year-old woman injured her hip in a fall outside her cabin, the medical crew on the Royal Caribbean cruise ship “Voyager of the Sea” decided she needed to get to a mainland hospital. A call from the Australian Maritime Safety Authority put the rescue in the hands of an Exmouth-based Bristow crew.

While Bristow gained permission of two clients to use their contracted AW139 aircraft, plans came together for a rescue team that included:

  • Captain Mike Alexander
  • Co-pilot Rhys MacLachlan
  • Winch Operator Nestor Lopez
  • Winchman James Glover
  • Aircrew Training Instructor Tony Laws

After arriving on scene and making an airborne risk assessment, Laws and Glover were lowered to the ship. The injured woman was in discomfort but cheerful, and it was determined that she was physically able to be winched off the ship.

“I asked if there was someone who wanted to travel with her, expecting a son or daughter to be on the trip with her,” Laws says. “Instead it was her husband, who is nearly 90 years old.”

He was also assessed as fit to be winched, so the operation began to get everyone on the helicopter. The couple held up fine and they were soon en route to meet a fixed-wing air ambulance in Learmonth that would take them to a hospital in Perth.

Asked why he wanted to be winched up to the helicopter with his wife, the husband replied “We do everything together.”

“Congratulations to the crew for their professionalism and a safe recovery and thanks to our clients for allowing their Bristow-contracted helicopter to be used for the rescue,” says Australia Business Unit Director Allan Blake, who visited the couple in the hospital. Blake adds that the rescue received coverage both on television and in the local newspaper.