US Coast Guard oversees, escorts at-sea medevacs from cruise ships along Florida Coast

MIAMI — The Coast Guard coordinated three at-sea cruise ship medevacs within the Miami and St. Petersburg areas of responsibility Saturday and Sunday.

Coast Guard Sector St. Petersburg watchstanders oversaw the medevac of one Celebrity Infinity crew member with COVID-19 like symptoms. The cruise ship’s small boat tender transported the ill member ashore to awaiting emergency medical services for further transport to local area hospitals. The watchstanders directed the launch of a Coast Guard Station St. Petersburg 45-foot Response Boat—Medium crew who escorted the tender ashore.

Coast Guard Sector Miami watchstanders oversaw the medevac of two Oasis of the Seas crew members with COVID-19 like symptoms. The cruise ship’s small boat tender transported the ill members ashore to awaiting EMS for further transport to local area hospitals. The Sector Miami watchstanders directed the launch of a Coast Guard Station Miami Beach 45-foot RB—M crew who escorted the tender ashore. 

Coast Guard 7th District flight surgeon was consulted, who assessed the symptoms of each person, and carefully considered the medical necessity for these medevacs. 

The Coast Guard, under guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and working with the Florida Department of Health, along with hospitals and EMS in Miami and St. Petersburg areas, facilitated the safe landing of these crew members in a manner to prevent further spread of the COVID-19 virus. 

There are currently more than 35 cruise ships with 35,000 crew members aboard in U.S. territorial waters around Florida.

“The entire DHS team is working together to ensure no seafarer will be left untreated during this emergency to the best of our collective ability, however, proactive measures are critical to ensuring our limited search and rescue resources and already stressed shore-side medical services do not get over-burdened,” said Rear Adm. Eric Jones, commander of the 7th District. “This emergency situation requires cruise ships to take additional measures to be reasonably self-sufficient in these emergency circumstances through improved on board medical care and protocols and pre-approved medical transport procedures.”

The Coast Guard 7th District also oversaw two other medevacs this weekend, one unrelated COVID-19 emergency from an anchored cruise ship near Miami and one from a pleasure craft vessel near Cape Canaveral.  

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