Air crew's second dramatic rescue

By James MortlockBRAVE airmen from one of the region's air bases have carried out their second dramatic rescue in the treacherous seas off Iceland in only a month.

By James Mortlock

BRAVE airmen from one of the region's air bases have carried out their second dramatic rescue in the treacherous seas off Iceland in only a month.

The latest mission for personnel from RAF Lakenheath - currently on a tour of duty at the Keflavik Naval Air Station in Iceland - involved plucking a badly injured fisherman to safety before transporting him to hospital.

A helicopter crew assigned to 56th Rescue Squadron was called into action on at 1.16am on Sunday to help the seaman, who was suffering from multiple injuries and breathing problems after he was struck by a broken cable during an excursion about 200 miles south-east of Keflavik.

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An RAF Lakenheath spokesman said the helicopter took off and followed the coastline towards the last known location of the vessel, but weather conditions deteriorated and the crew was forced to contend with blowing snow, ice and 35-knot winds.

Despite the conditions, the crew traced the stricken boat using weather radar and made several attempts to radio it directly.

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However, their initial attempts were unsuccessful and information had to be relayed through the Icelandic Coastguard Rescue Co-ordination Centre.

But the shape of the boat, along with rough seas, made it difficult for the air crew to lower rescue personnel on to the vessel.

However, after several attempts, one of the airmen successfully fully boarded the boat and began assessing the patient.

With the injured fisherman loaded up and hoisted to the hovering helicopter, the air crew began plotting a course for Reykjavík, but fuel and weather conditions en route forced the helicopter to land at Keflavík.

After landing, the patient was transported to Reykjavík Hospital by a waiting ambulance.

Major Christopher Prejean, 56th Rescue Squadron mission co-pilot and assistant director of operations,” said: “The Keflavík team was able to accomplish a life-saving mission despite unpredictable weather and conditions.”

It is the second time in a month that the squadron have been called into action. On March 10, seven airmen rescued a 23-year-old fisherman off Iceland's west coast when a fishing line severed his leg, causing a potentially life threatening wound.

A rescue helicopter, manned by specialist personnel, was dispatched and reached the fisherman's boat within 25 minutes. He was then hoisted on board and taken to hospital.

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