NewsPinellas County


U.S. Coast Guard conducts water rescue to save patients

The Coast Guard uses a MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter
Posted at 10:26 PM, Aug 28, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-28 23:25:23-04

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- The U.S. Coast Guard rescued several patients from vessels over the past few days.

On Saturday, Crews rescued a 23-year-old unconscious diver from Thompson Reef. He was transported to Tampa General Hospital.

On Sunday, a Coast Guard crew rescued a male with chest pains off a 40-foot vessel about 60 miles offshore from Longboat Key.

Crews transported him to Tampa General Hospital.

ABC Action News got a look around the U.S. Coast Guard Air Station in Clearwater. Zachary Loesch, a helicopter rescue swimmer with the U.S. Coast Guard, said sometimes he will swim to a patient or be lowered directly onto a vessel.

"If it's a big enough boat, the helicopter can hover over and lower me down directly to the boat without swimming," said Zachary Loesch.

The Coast Guard shared video of crews rescuing a man experiencing abdominal pains on Tuesday more than 100 miles offshore of Fort Myers.

A MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew hoisted the man from the vessel and transported him to Tampa General Hospital.

"We were about 80 miles from Fort Myers once we had the patient, 90 miles from Tampa. Thunderstorms were in the way so we decided to take the patient to Tampa General and got him to a higher level of medical care," said Tim Keily, a helicopter co-pilot.

Crews use a hoist basket to safely lift patients from a vessel onto the helicopter.

"A lot of times, we'll use a basket. It is very common rescue device. We'll put the patient in the basket and hoist them into the helicopter. The helicopter will pick me back up," said Loesch.

The Coast Guard respond to calls all over the state of Florida.

"Our operating area is pretty much the entire state of Florida. We operate all the way out to Pensacola. I've done cases off of Key West. We cover all the way out to the Bahamas and within the Bahamas," said Keily.

"I've always wanted to fly a helicopter and getting to save people is pretty cool," said Keily.