On Monday, June 19, 2017, USCG in Kodiak received a medevac request from the crew of the NEW DAWN. A crew member aboard the NEW DAWN sustained a broken ankle and after consultation with the duty flight surgeon, the decision was made to request medevac from the vessel due to the possible need for orthopedic surgery. A Jayhawk helicopter was dispatched to the vessel located in the vicinity of Shelikof Strait. The injured crew member was safely hoisted from the vessel and transported to Kodiak for medical treatment. The weather conditions at the time were reported to be mild with 17 mph winds.
The F/V New Dawn is a 44.8 foot commercial fishing vessel based out of Kodiak, Alaska. The details of how the crewman was injured are unavailable. Crewman injured aboard fishing vessels in almost all cases are entitled to benefits under Federal Maritime Law. These no fault benefits include the payment of maintenance and cure benefits. Under the maintenance and cure doctrine a vessel owner must pay all reasonable and necessary medical expenses associated with a crewman’s injury. This includes the duty to pay for medical evacuation from the vessel.
Due to the nature of the commercial fishing industry, injuries aboard vessels are common place. Injuries happen for a variety of reasons, whether it was negligence of the vessel owner or an employee, or unseaworthiness of the vessel itself. Under general maritime law, vessel owners have a duty to provide prompt and adequate medical care to the crew, regardless of how the injury occurred. Sometimes that duty requires halting operations and calling for a coast guard medevac or heading to the nearest port. A breach of these duties constitutes negligence under the Jones Act.
In this particular instance it is good to know the injured crewman safely made it off the vessel to receive medical care. We hope the crewman recovers quickly and can return to commercial fishing in the Alaska waters.
In another Alaska maritime accident last week, a 22-year old crewman was airlifted from the M/V Costal Progress. The crewman who needed help was aboard the ship approximately 160 miles southwest of Kodiak. After consulting with the Coast Guard Flight Surgeon the decision was made that the crewman needed emergency evacuation from the vessel so that his condition could be evaluated by shore side medical experts. The circumstances of the injury are unknown at this time.
When there is a question about an injured or ill crewman’s medical condition ship to shore medical advice should be obtained. A delay in receiving medical care can lead to serious medical complications, worsen an injury or illness, and in some case result in death.