A Coast Guard helicopter crew spent Tuesday morning performing back-to-back medevacs between King Cove and the community of Cold Bay.
A fisherman from the crabber Miss Courtney Kim got hurt on Monday night when a crab pot fell on him, inflicting multiple injuries. The vessel was near Sanak Island — not far from King Cove, which has a health clinic.
The vessel headed into town, while the Coast Guard made arrangements for an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew to leave its forward-deployment in Cold Bay and meet the fisherman the next morning.
But Petty Officer Grant DeVuyst says the flight crew soon got wind of another emergency.
“Between the report of the injured mariner who was getting taken into King Cove by his vessel, and the time that the helicopter showed up, there was a report of an infant suffering from respiratory distress,” DeVuyst says.
The Coast Guard helicopter picked up the sick baby and his mother from King Cove on Tuesday morning, and flew them to Cold Bay. From there, the family boarded a commercial medevac flight bound for Anchorage.
Then, the helicopter crew doubled back and picked up the injured fisherman from the F/V Miss Courtney Kim. That man was also taken to Anchorage on a commercial medevac flight, arranged by the Coast Guard.
DeVuyst says it’s not uncommon for the Coast Guard to assist with medevacs out of King Cove.
“There’s only certain types of aircrafts that can get on-scene,” DeVuyst says. “Our air crews are trained to fly in pretty extreme conditions up here. You’ll see in Alaska a lot that we assist with things of that type, just because of the weather and the remoteness.”
Residents of King Cove have been lobbying the federal government for years to build a road through the Izembek wildlife reserve, which separates them from Cold Bay’s all-weather airport. They say that a one-lane gravel road would provide them with more reliable access to commercial medevac flights.