When I reported this morning that the Coast Guard was called to medevac a sick passenger off a cruise ship passing by Atlantic City, I was reminded of the time I saw it happen. It was an incredible experience.

The medical facilities aboard a cruise ship are quite extensive, and the medical staff is equipped to handle a lot more than just sea sickness. Most ship’s doctors are also surgeons and there have been cases where they have performed things like emergency appendectomies on sick passengers. Still, things can happen that are beyond their capabilities and from time to time they have to call for help.

The U.S. Coast Guard said an ill woman was medevaced off of the Norwegian Breakaway Sunday evening about 13 miles off the coast of Atlantic City. A rescue crew launched a helicopter, hoisted the woman aboard and took her to an area hospital

We were sailing on the Norwegian Gem in October, 2016. We had just returned from dinner when a crew member knocked on our door and told us a passenger was ill and needed to be taken off the ship. The helicopter, he said, would be hovering right above our balcony. Our cabin was on the top deck, and the helipad was literally above us. The first thing we saw was a chase plane from the U.S. Coast Guard circling in the darkness around the ship. A short time later, we could see the lights of the helicopter.

Crouched down on the floor of our balcony, the sound of the engine and force of the wind from the rotors was deafening and blinding.

We saw the sick passenger wheeled past our cabin on a stretcher and a short time later hoisted onto the helicopter in a basket.

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