SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- Like any Navy ship, the USS Germantown (LSD 42) conducts drill after drill to prepare for emergency situations. From fires to flooding to man overboard, Sailors practice responding to all sorts of scenarios. On the morning of July 18, the crew was put to the test by assisting in a real life emergency.
At 8:19 a.m., Lt. Casey Gon, the officer of the deck, heard a distress call over bridge-to-bridge radio. The mayday call was from a man in a fishing vessel several miles away - his cousin was suffering from seizures. Gon noted that the vessel was a mere four miles away from Germantown, so he proceeded in that direction while contacting the Coast Guard and calling away the small boat crew.
The Coast Guard determined that Germantown was essential in rescuing the man given its vicinity and the medical personnel available.
At the same time, the watch team in the Combat Information Center contacted Fleet Area Control Surveillance Facility (FACSFAC) to arrange for a medical evacuation (MEDEVAC). Once in the vicinity of the distressed vessel, Germantown deployed its 11-meter rigid hull inflatable boat (RHIB) to find which of the several dozen fishing boats had the victim onboard.
The crew reached the vessel in distress, and discovered a man who had suffered severe seizures and whose heart had stopped. They transferred the man to the RHIB and proceeded back to the ship, where a Coast Guard HH-60 Jayhawk was on final approach to MEDEVAC the patient to Scripps La Jolla Hospital.
"It was amazing to see how fast everyone moved," said Boatswain's Mate 3rd Class Alano Martinez, one of Germantown's helicopter flight deck officers. "We went from a routine morning at sea to a spur-of-the-moment rescue operation in a matter of seconds. I was proud of the response from our flight deck crew."
On the RHIB, Master Chief Hospital Corpsman Eric Cole, Germantown's independent duty corpsman, had everyone who not involved in driving the RHIB help conduct CPR on the man.
Cole and the boat crew, consisting of Ensign Magdalena Marce, boat officer; Engineman 3rd Class Daniel Goodwyn and Enginemen 2nd Class Evan Mock, boat engineers; Boatswain's Mate 2nd Class Timothy Mathis, coxswain; and Seaman Luis Jaramillo all took turns conducting CPR on the man. Jaramillo then took control of the civilian boat because the remaining member was too distraught to operate it.
"The boat crew and medical team's response was outstanding. Considering we don't get calls like this everyday, the entire team was quick to act and knew exactly what do. I was impressed," said Marce.
Germantown took the non-injured civilian aboard and arranged for him to telephone family ashore. He and his cousin had driven down from Los Angeles that morning and were not familiar with the area, and they had no family in San Diego. Given his unfamiliarity with the area and his emotional state, Hospital Corpsman 1st Class William Reeser escorted him to the hospital while his cousin was airlifted.
At the time of the emergency, Germantown was conducting various exercises and drills off the coast of southern California for the purpose of showing midshipmen what Navy life is like. Instead, the midshipmen had the opportunity to witness a real-life situation in which the Sailors of Germantown demonstrated their ability to work together as a team in response to an emergency.
After seeing his crew in action, Cmdr. Steven Vincent, the commanding officer said, "It was the kind of day that makes you proud ... everything we did was something we had just practiced in our last at-sea period ... but putting it all together safely and seamlessly is what it's all about."
For more news from USS Germantown, visit www.news.navy.mil/local/lsd42/.