King Cove officials are celebrating U.S. Coast Guard efforts in the rescue and transport of a “severely injured” fisherman when local treatment methods were unavailable.
Coast Guard crews were able to medevac a 58-year-old fisherman from King Cove on Monday when stormy conditions made air transport unsafe. The fisherman was injured while aboard a Seattle-based processor near Unimak Island. The man injured his eye when he was accidentally sprayed with a high-pressure hose at about 1 a.m., according to a King Cove press release.
According to King Cove officials, winds as high as 60 miles per hour and high seas hindered crews from trying to lift the injured fisherman up to a 20-foot ladder at a Cold Bay dock and instead landed in King Cove where he was transported directly to a clinic for treatment. From the time of the man’s injury to the time he was initially treated, officials estimate nearly 11 hours passed.
“After an assessment at the clinic and a consultation, an emergency room doctor in Anchorage recommended that the patient needed urgent attention by an ophthalmologist in order to preserve as much of his eyesight as possible,” Eby said. “We began exploring options to medevac him since commercial planes weren’t flying into King Cove.”
The determination to transport the injured man to Anchorage was made and Coast Guard crews were able to land in King Cove around 3 p.m.
It’s the fifth such incident in the King Cove area where Coast Guard assistance was required to transport a severely injured individual for treatment, King Cove officials noted.
“But if we had a road, we could have driven to Cold Bay much sooner to meet the life flight team and not risked the lives of the Coast Guard and the patient,” officials wrote in a statement.
The statement reflects ongoing efforts within King Cove to persuade Alaska and federal lawmakers to build a road between the town and Cold Bay.
“In total, there have been eight emergency transfers of patients from King Cove to Anchorage since Interior Secretary Sally Jewell rejected the land exchange and road proposal at the end of December,” according to the King Cove statement.