Wednesday, May 15, 2013

CCSO Marine Deputies Battle Rough Seas Responding To Emergency In Gulf

Standing at the bow of a 25-foot Collier County Sheriff’s Office marine boat, Cpl. James Byrns attempted to hand off an automated external defibrillator (AED) to a passenger on a 50-foot sailboat, where another passenger was having a medical emergency.

But rough seas prevented the vessels from syncing, making the hand-off impossible.

“Every time our boat would go down, the bigger boat would go up,” Cpl. Byrns recalled.

Cpl. Byrns and Cpl. Shawn Bogart battled 5-7 foot seas and 15-20 mph winds responding to the medical emergency in the Gulf of Mexico on Tuesday night. The punishing conditions underscore the dangers CCSO deputies sometimes face, whether on road, the water or in the air.

“We took countless waves over the bow,” Cpl. Bogart said. “I lost count at 10.’

Some of the waves were shoulder level, he noted.

Cpl. Byrns and Cpl. Bogart were dispatched to the emergency around 8:30 p.m.

Traveling in heavy seas, strong winds and poor visibility, the two Marine Bureau deputies located the vessel 10 miles south of Cape Romano and 8 miles off shore around 9:30 p.m.

“That boat was being tossed around like nobody’s business,” Cpl. Byrns said.

After nearly 30 minutes and multiple attempts by the deputies to hand off the AED, a Collier County EMS boat arrived and was able to get a paramedic onboard the sailboat.

The patient remained on the sailboat with the medic because the rough conditions made it too dangerous to remove him from the boat.

Cpl. Bogart, and Cpl. Byrns followed the sailboat into Caxambas Pass where the waters were calm enough to transfer the patient onto the EMS boat and then to the Caxambas boat ramp on Marco Island to a waiting ambulance.

Both Cpl. Bogart and Cpl. Byrns advised boaters to always check weather conditions before setting out on the water.