PUNTARENAS, Costa Rica (NNS) -- Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Comfort (T-AH 20) responded to a request to medically evacuate (MEDEVAC) a resident from a remote village in Bajo Blay, Costa Rica, to paramedics waiting in a nearby town Aug. 10.
Jose Morales Moya, 14, mishandled a loaded rifle and shot himself in the right foot. Due to the remote location and lack of roads leading to Moya's village, Costa Rican authorities requested helicopter transport assistance from Comfort.
"A hospital in San Jose received information about the victim, but there was no way to get to him by car. The only way was by air," said Costa Rican Police Air Patrol Capt. George Lozano. "Unfortunately, our own helicopters for this type of mission can't fly right now."
With their helicopters grounded for maintenance, the only helicopter able to fly the mission was a MH-60S Knight Hawk of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 26 Detachment Two, which is currently embarked aboard Comfort as part of Continuing Promise 2011 (CP11).
"We flew to San Jose to pick up Lozano to help guide us and then we flew through the mountains to pick up the boy," said Lt. Cmdr. Terry Menteer, HSC-26 officer-in-charge and pilot for the MEDEVAC. "We thought the weather would not be good enough to go pick him up, but luckily the weather held just long enough to make our way to his location."
The helicopter crew was able to locate the mountain village of Bajo Blay, 60 miles away from Costa Rica's capital city of San Jose.
"We were in a remote wilderness mountain area where the boy resided, it was in the middle of nowhere," said Chief Naval Air Crewman Justin Crowe. "The obstacles we faced were slope landings, trees, livestock and rocks. The biggest concern was trying to find a safe and suitable place for the aircraft."
The MH-60S helicopter landed safely in a field next to the village of Bajo Blay. Upon landing, Lozana, Crowe and Naval Air Crewman 3rd Class Joe Wainscott met Moya to give him aid.
"When we arrived to the individual's location, the people who took care of him had the bleeding under control," said Wainscott. "I assisted Chief Crowe by applying a clean bandage on the injury and then placing him on a stretcher."
The Costa Rican MEDEVAC was Wainscott's first experience with this type of mission in his entire career.
"It was an adrenaline rush helping the boy and the villagers. From landing the aircraft to rushing toward the boy to give him aide, it felt good to help," said Wainscott. "You can see it on their faces that they are excited to see you and really wanted the help."
Paramedics were on standby at the San Jose International Airport to pick up Moya and take him to a local hospital. Lozano expressed his gratitude for the help that HSC-26 provided during the MEDEVAC.
"It was a great opportunity to fly and assist with this mission," said Lozano. "We couldn't have been able to help this boy as quickly if it weren't for you all."
Comfort arrived in Puntarenas, Costa Rica, July 28 for its eighth of nine mission stops during CP11, a five-month humanitarian assistance mission to the Caribbean and Central and South America.
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