A U.S. Coast Guard medical helicopter picked up a man suffering from severe dehydration from Santa Rosa Island on Thursday.
The Truth, a diving and excursion boat of Santa Barbara-based Truth Aquatics, called in about a 67-year-old passenger who was feeling ill, and the on-call Coast Guard flight surgeons determined the man should be evacuated by helicopter to a hospital, said USCG spokesman Adam Eggers.
Helicopters fly out of the Los Angeles Airport and do medevacs – medical evacuations – all the time, he said.
“For any situations when you have an older person on the boat and they start to not feel well, you want to get them off.”
Dehydration can exacerbate the effects of being on the ocean and make people feel a lot worse, a lot faster, he said.
“If you’re not drinking enough water when you get onto the ocean, even if it’s fairly calm, the way the boat moves can affect your brain and equilibrium."
Combine that with the man’s age and high temperatures, and the flight surgeons recommended that a helicopter pick up the patient.
Due to the size of the boat – 69 feet long – the Coast Guard determined it would be safer to have The Truth moor at Santa Rosa Island so the man could be loaded into a landed helicopter.
National Park Service staff moved the patient to a landing area so the helicopter could pick him up around 9 a.m., Eggers said.
It’s always safer to land a helicopter and load someone into it than doing an in-air transfer, he added.
The man was dropped off at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital at about 9:20 a.m.