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November 22, 2012
LCDR Jeff Choat
IN the early hours of November 3,
HMAS Toowoomba's Seahawk was
launched to conduct a casualty evacu-
ation of a seriously ill 79-year-old
woman from ocean liner MV Sea
Princess to the Sir Charles Gairdner
Hospital in Perth.
The cruise ship had left the Port of
Fremantle on the previous day and had
been conducting officer of the watch
exercises with Toowoomba overnight.
Sea Princess's captain request-
ed assistance to evacuate a patient to
hospital at 3.25am and the Seahawk
launched at first light.
Pilot and aircraft captain LEUT
Nick Brown said training kicked in as
the crew reacted to the task and man-
agement of the situation.
"It doesn't get more realistic than
this," LEUT Brown said.
Once airborne, the Seahawk con-
ducted a recce and hovered over the
transfer point. Wireman LSA Joel
Young was winched down with a para-
guard stretcher, followed by a doctor.
The woman was suffering from
acute abdominal pain and needed to be
placed in the stretcher for transfer.
"The ship was well prepared for our
transfer with a fire team closed up,"
LSA Ray Solomon said.
"The transfer area was almost 200
feet above the water but there was plen-
ty of room to operate safely and it all
The aircraft departed for a swift
transit of more than 70 nautical miles
to the Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital,
where the patient was delivered in a
Aviation warfare officer LEUT
Robert McBeath said it was an experi-
ence for his team.
"The whole crew got an immense
feeling of satisfaction from lending a
hand to someone in need," he said.
CO Toowoomba CMDR Brendon
Zilko was pleased to have assisted.
"We are getting ready to deploy for
Operation Slipper in the MEAO," CMDR
Zilko said. "Any chance to use our train-
ing is welcome and proves we are mis-
Toowoomba will replace HMAS
Anzac on Op Slipper.
ON HAND: CO HMAS
Brendon Zilko (above)
monitors the transfer
of a patient (left) from
MV Sea Princess to
Photos: LCDR Jeff Choat
and AB Petro Gross
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