When an elderly passenger aboard a world-traveling ship needed emergency medical care in one of the most extreme locations on the map, Team Thule answered the call
THULE AB, Greenland – A Thule medical response team here responds to an emergency evacuation of a civilian passenger from an ocean liner traveling through the area Sept. 2. The 78-year-old woman was shuttled from the ship to the shoreline by rubber raft and rushed by ambulance to Thule’s new state-of-the-art hospital where her pneumonic condition stabilized and improved through the medical technicians’ care and treatment. A Canadian aircraft transported the patient and her daughter to a larger medical facility on the eastern North American mainland the following day. (Photo courtesy of Thule AB Public Affairs)
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THULE AB, Greenland – When an elderly passenger aboard a world-traveling ship needed emergency medical care in one of the most extreme locations on the map, Team Thule answered the call to stabilize her condition and emergency medical evacuate her home.
Capt. Corey Baker, 821st Air Base Group medical liaison officer, received the message Sept. 2 that a 78-year-old woman aboard an “extreme vacation” ocean liner, which takes guests from the North Pole to the Amazon River Basin and Antarctica, had a critical pneumonic condition that was deteriorating.
“The situation was dire,” Captain Baker said. “She was going to be in a lot worse shape if she didn’t get care quickly, and Thule’s new 19,000-square-foot hospital is definitely the best facility she can come to.”
The recently constructed medical facility here contains state-of-the-art equipment for emergency treatment, dentistry and other care. It is staffed by a team of both Airmen and Danish medical professionals.
Vladamir Kraechna, the ship’s Ukrainian doctor, transported the patient and her daughter from the vessel into a rubber raft and set off across the iceberg-filled North Star Bay. A Thule emergency medical response team was waiting on shore.
“We were in the middle of the Arctic with no medical facilities,” said Mr. Kraechna. “We tried to stabilize her, but we had to find a place where help could be arranged and a plane could get her to mainland [Canada] and more extensive facilities.”
The patient and accompanying party was rushed aboard an ambulance to the hospital here where her deteriorating condition was first stabilized, then improved through medical technicians’ care and treatment.
“It’s once in a blue moon we have the opportunity to help a civilian who doesn’t work at Thule [and] is traveling through the Arctic,” said Captain Baker. “But we’re always ready 24/7 with a doctor and nurse on-call.”
Airfield Operations was ready to coordinate an emergency plane landing by 4 a.m. the next morning for the patient’s medical evacuation. A Canadian aircraft landed on the flight line and transported the stabilized patient and her daughter to a larger medical facility on the eastern North American mainland.
In the case of an emergency medical evacuation for military personnel here, hospital staff coordinates with the Theater Patient Movement Requirements Center located at Ramstein AB, Germany, and Tri-Care. However, the emergency response team, Airfield Operations and hospital staff successfully responded to the unexpected civilian medical evacuation when it counted, Captain Baker said.
“I don’t know what kind of medical treatment you normally find this far above the Arctic Circle, but its good we’re here and ready,” he said.