Three copters take victims from ferry dock
June 25, 2008 · Updated 1:47 PM
"Medics bring a stretcher to where others are treating a carbon monoxide poisoning victim on the ferry dock. All three victims were airlifted to Seattle.Jim Larsen / staff photosA record number of helicopter landings and fast action by rescue personnel saved some lives Tuesday afternoon at the Clinton ferry dock.The dock was used for landings and takeoffs by three Airlift Northwest helicopter air ambulances responding to a call to help three boaters suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning.It's the first time we've done that from the Southend, said Fire District 3 Assistant Chief Paul Busch, who served as incident commander for the rescue. He said Whidbey General Hospital Paramedic Geoff Newton made the helicopter call after consulting with Dr. Paul Zevaruah, who oversees the paramedics. In the past, no more than two helicopters have responded to any single incident on South Whidbey.Medics were deeply concerned about the carbon monoxide poisoning and concluded all three victims should be sent to Virginia Mason Hospital, which has a hyperbaric chamber. First, they had to go to Harborview which is the region's trauma center.Busch said the three helicopters were dispatched from their bases at Harborview, Arlington and Bellingham. Rescue personnel loaded the victims as one helicopter after another landed on the ferry dock, and while ferry patrons watched with interest. Ferry traffic leaving the island was low, and the ferries managed to keep operating much of the time.According to the Island County Sheriff's Office, the incident occurred in a 30-foot Reinell cabin cruiser named Overspray. Three men had left LaConner in the boat. Piloting the boat was a 49-year-old Woodinville man, while the captain, a 58-year-old Redmond man, and a 36-year-old passenger from Kirkland were inside the cabin. The pilot became concerned when the two men below failed to return topside, and he found them unconscious in the boat's cabin. He radioed for help on emergency Channel 16 at 4:20 p.m.The South Whidbey Fire District 3 rescue boat responded, but first on the scene was Fish and Wildlife Officer Russ Mullins who was on routine boat patrol when the emergency call came in. My number one task is public safety, he said.Darin Reid, FD 3 EMS chief, credited Mullins with finding the distressed boat, located in a radio shadow area near Hat Island. Mullins managed to find the boat with his radar. We arrived 10 minutes later, Reid said.Mullins said when he pulled up to the Overspray he found one man unconscious and another groggy, both located in a low spot inside the boat's cabin. They had apparently been overcome by engine fumes. The third, less affected man was doing CPR on the most serious victim. Mullins helped with CPR and said he was glad when the FD 3 rescut boat arrived. They took over, he said.Reid and fellow EMTs Logan McInerney, Michaela Cavenah, Mike Michaelangelo and Eldon Baker dragged the victims into the open air. The two most serious victims were taken to the ferry dock in Mullins' boat, while the third man was brought back in the small rescue boat. Since all three had inhaled carbon monoxide, it was decided to fly each to Harborview.The Overspray was towed to Langley Marina. All three victims were initially listed in serious condition in Harborview Hospital. They underwent hyperbolic treatment at Virginia Mason and by Wednesday all had been sent home.The Sheriff's Office is continuing its investigation of how the carbon monoxide leak occurred. "