Medical evacuation from Merchant Vessel Swedish Reefer

Date: Thursday 3 August 2017

Location: King Harry Reach, River Fal

Weather: SW 6, Slight Sea and Swell, Good Visibility, Sunny Periods

All weather lifeboat: (Launched 10:12 / Returned 11:58) – Jonathan Blakeston (Coxswain), Luke Wills, Dave Nicoll, Adam West, Jake Ingleby, Jamie Wakefield, Will Allen

Inshore lifeboat: (Launched 10:03 / Returned 11:50) – Claire Angove (Helmsman), Tom Bird, Thomas Telford


At 09:52 Falmouth Coastguard requested that both Falmouth All Weather and Inshore Lifeboats be launched to assist with the medical evacuation of an injured seaman who had been reported to have fallen 5m on the 158m (13,049 GRT) Merchant Vessel Swedish Reefer which was moored at King Harry Reach in the River Fal. The Inshore Lifeboat was tasked to transfer Paramedics to the ship from the ferry slipway while the All Weather Lifeboat was requested to transport the Falmouth Coastguard Cliff Rescue Team and its equipment as the initial information indicated that the casualty was in an inaccessible location, possibly the hold of the ship. The Coastguard Rescue Helicopter was also tasked to assist if required.

he Inshore Lifeboat launched from her slipway at 10:03 and headed up the Carrick Roads and into the River Fal arriving at the King Harry Ferry slipway at 10:13. One paramedic had already been transferred to the ship by the Truro Harbour Masters launch, so two additional paramedics and their equipment were transferred by the Inshore Lifeboat to the ship and along with two of the lifeboat crew who are casualty care trained.

Six of the Coastguard Cliff Rescue Team and their equipment were loaded on board the All Weather Lifeboat which left its pontoon at 10:12 and headed up the River arriving on scene at 10:32 and initially two members of the Coastguard Team were placed on board the ship to assist. The Coastguard Helicopter had also arrived on scene and placed its winch man on board the vessel to assess the situation. It was soon confirmed that the casualty was on the deck of the ship and due to the severe nature of his injuries it was decided to evacuate them by helicopter. Two additional Coastguards were placed on board to help. At 11:15 the casualty was winched in a stretcher into the helicopter and was taken to Derriford Hospital in Plymouth for treatment. The All Weather Lifeboat collected all the remaining personnel and equipment from the ship and the Inshore Lifeboat transferred the two paramedics back to the shore, both lifeboats then being released at 11:26 to return to their station.

The Inshore Lifeboat was recovered onto its slipway at 11:50 and the All Weather Lifeboat arrived back alongside its pontoon berth at 11:58, with both being refuelled and ready for service by 12:20.

The Swedish Reefer currently moored at one of the deep water berths in the River Fal. It is believed that the casualty had fallen from the ladder on one of the ships cranes and had landed on the deck suffering numerous broken bones. This was an excellent joint operation by the various emergency services to ensure that the casualty was stabilized and evacuated in the quickest way possible.