CLEARWATER, FL — Still working without pay due to the federal shut-down, members of the Coast Guard Air Station Clearwater helicopter crew were called out for the second time this month for a sea rescue.
The crew of the Clearwater-based Jayhawk helicopter conducted a medical evacuation of a 52-year-old man from a fishing boat located 110 miles west of Clearwater during the early-morning hours of Thursday, Jan. 31.
Coast Guard Sector St. Petersburg received a call on a marine band radio channel at 10:15 p.m. Wednesday from a crew member aboard the 43-foot fishing boat Tobo stating that a passenger was suffering from stomach pains and was in need of medical attention.
The rescue crew hoisted the man onto the helicopter and transported him to Tampa General Hospital at approximately 4 a.m.
This rescue comes a week after the Cleawater air station was dispatched to rescue two men and a dog whose boat flipped over in the Gulf of Mexico off Florida’s Big Bend in the Panhandle.
On Jan. 22, the helicopter crew hoisted the men and their dog to safety about five miles south of Rock Island. All three were found wearing life jackets and clinging to the hull of the overturned vessel. They were treated for mild hypothermia.
Following the rescue, the crew received a note from a grateful parent who thanked them for continuing to work without pay during the federal shut-down.
“I can’t thank you and your crew enough for saving my son Greg tonight,” wrote Kim Rasmussen. “He said he wouldn’t have made it much longer as every muscle was starting to cramp and he was having trouble staying awake. I have never been more afraid of losing my son. If your crew had not continued to work without pay, I wouldn’t have a son tonight!”
In a follow-up message, Rasmussen singled out Clearwater Coast Guard members.
“The Rasmussen family would like to personally thank Jason Morris who was our contact the night of the rescue, Kyle Johnson, Jon Orthman, Nick Gilkinson, Kyle Stallings, Michael DeNyse and all the others behind the scenes that have forever changed our lives,” she said. “You will never fully know how much you mean to our family. May God bless you and all of the Coast Guard crew and the families that have struggled without pay but still kept saving lives”
“This is why we stand the watch,” Coast Guard commander, Admiral Karl Schultz, told the men and women in his command after seeing Rasmussen’s note. “Now, more than ever, America needs you.”
In a separate message, Schultz thanked the members of the Coast Guard for their service during the federal shut-down and lamented the difficult circumstances this has put them in.
“Our Coast Guard leadership team and the American people stand in awe of your continued dedication to duty, resilience, and that of your families,” he said. “I find it unacceptable that Coast Guard men and women have to rely on food pantries and donations to get through day-to-day life as service members. I will continue … to take to Capitol Hill the message of the critical importance of putting paychecks in the hands of the men and women who serve in the world’s best Coast Guard.”
Video via U.S. Coast Guard
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