On my July cruise from Seattle to Alaska aboard the Carnival Miracle, (read more about that here) there were two medical emergencies that required assistance from both the U.S. Coast Guard and the Royal Canadian Air Force. In both cases passengers were transported from the ship to hospitals on shore.
The first was pretty straightforward. A U. S. Coast Guard boat pulled alongside the Miracle near the entrance to Tracy Arm Fjord and the passenger walked down the gangplank and onto the boat.
The other was not so simple. In dense fog and battling 25 knot winds, the 422 Transport and Rescue Squadron’s CH-149 Cormorant helicopter crew, using night vision goggles, had to hover just above the bow, lower a cable and a diver to the deck, secure the cable, hoist one of the ship's medical staff to the copter followed by the sick passenger and then the diver. I watched from a deck just below the helicopter and it was intense.
The airlift procedure took almost an hour and the pilot's skill was impressive.
With thousands of people on a floating hotel, it's not uncommon to have medical emergencies arise. I've been on ships that had to detour to meet an ambulance or medical transport, but standing in the wind and fog on the deck of the Miracle as the helicopter hovered overhead was a new experience. I hope I’m never in need of that kind of rescue, but, if it happens, it's nice to know the experts are at the ready.