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Always Ready, Always There

Phone: 503-823-3700

Fax: 503-823-3710

55 SW Ash Street, Portland, OR 97204

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Portland Fire & Rescue Responds to Medical Call Aboard 550' Bulk Carrier

March 24, 2001 @ 6:32 pm

Portland Fire and Rescue responded to the aid of a man aboard the Marine Merchant Vessel, the Star Life. This incident was originally dispatched as an unconscious patient. The Star Life, a 550' Panamanian flagged bulk carrier, was just preparing to anchor and was located approximately two nautical miles downriver from Kelly Point Park, when one of the crew members experienced a medical emergency.

Portland Fire Dispatch was informed of the incident by the Columbia River Pilot's Dispatcher. Columbia River Pilots board vessels in Astoria and accompany the ship's Captain as they navigate the Columbia River passage. Response to this incident was complicated as the location of the vessel in the Columbia was difficult to determine.

Crews from Portland Fire Station 17, on-board Rescue Boat 17, responded to the now anchored Star Life. Upon arrival crews from Rescue Boat 17 used a gangway lowered from the Star Life to access the larger vessel. Rescue Boat 17 also requested assistance from Fireboat 6. Firefighters, once aboard the Star Life, were able to assess and stabilize the patient-- an engineer who was experiencing an allergic reaction.

Using the ship's davit, a crane like device, the patient was lowered to the deck of Fireboat 6; it was then necessary to transport the patient to an awaiting ambulance crew at Frenchman's Bar on the Washington side of the Columbia River. Portland Rescue Boat 17, specially equipped with a beach-landing ramp, was used to access the beach and deliver the patient to the awaiting ambulance.

"This incident was difficult because of several unique access problems and required the cooperation of several agencies," said Portland Fire Captain Casey Honl, the Officer in charge of Fireboat 6. This incident highlights many of the unique disciplines Portland firefighters are required to perform; namely, advanced life support, high-angle rescue, maritime, and boat operations.

Responding units from Portland Fire and Rescue were Fireboat 6 and Rescue Boat 17. The United States Coast Guard, Multnomah County Sheriff's Office, the Columbia River Pilots, Vancouver Fire, and Clark County American Medical Response also assisted on this incident.