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News | Dec. 16, 2010

Aircrew aids injured Coast Guardsman

By Capt. John T. Stamm Joint Task Force-Bravo Public Affairs

Soldiers from the 1-228th Aviation Regiment "Witchdoctors" medical team here aided in the treatment of a U.S. Coast Guardsman injured while at sea off the coast of Honduras.

Two Joint Task Force-Bravo pilots flew a crew of two medics aboard an HH-60L Black Hawk helicopter to Puerto Cortes, Honduras, Dec. 14, to airlift the Coast Guardsman to the airport in Tegucigalpa, where he was taken by ambulance to the local hospital.

The Coast Guardsman was onboard the Coast Guard Cutter Resolute, a 210-foot Medium-Endurance Cutter currently deployed on a law enforcement patrol in the Caribbean, when he began complaining that he couldn't swallow.

A corpsman (medic) aboard the vessel diagnosed the patient with esophageal blockage, a condition in which the throat becomes swollen, restricting airflow.

"We contacted the Coast Guard District Seven flight surgeon who recommended a medical evacuation," said Lt. Cmdr. Adam Chamie, the executive officer of the Resolute. "At that point, the Command Center at Joint Interagency Task Force-South coordinated with JTF-Bravo to arrange the (medical evacuation)."

The vessel diverted from its patrol mission between Honduras and the Yucatan Straits to Puerto Cortes. The patient was loaded onto a small boat that took him and a shipmate to meet the JTF-Bravo helicopter, which landed on a pier.

Army Staff Sgt. Shontal Thompson, flight medic with the 1-228th "Witchdoctors," was the chief medic on the aircraft.

"My primary concern was that the patient might be in respiratory distress," Sergeant Thompson said. "He could talk to me without difficulty, so we didn't administer treatment, but we transported him to Tegucigalpa as a precaution. If his condition would have worsened, the hospital there would have been better equipped for treatment."

Once at the hospital, the Coast Guardsman was treated overnight and then released.

"We are extremely grateful for the quick response and detailed coordination by JTF-B," said Commander Chamie. "It's always a tough situation when you're out at sea and have limited medical facilities, and it was quite comforting knowing that there were aircrews, medical personnel and logistics troops from (Joint Task Force) Bravo ready to help us."