Two King Cove Medevacs in One Day Accentuates Dire Need for Road to Cold Bay Airport

March 14, 2014

King Cove, AK – March 14, 2014 – Coast Guard personnel risked their lives this week during blizzard conditions to conduct two separate King Cove, Alaska medevacs in one day; a baby in respiratory distress and a severely injured fisherman. Both patients had to wait until daylight — more than seven hours – for the Coast Guard to arrive because the remote community’s harsh weather conditions made it impossible to land any sooner.

 King Cove Clinic Physician’s Assistant Katie Eby said the clinic received a call at about 5 p.m. Monday evening (March 10, 2014) that a fisherman had been injured after he had been crushed between two cod pots. One of the pots, weighing approximately 600 pounds, fell on him. The injured man, who’s in his 30s, arrived about six hours later with hip injuries.

“He took a six-hour boat ride to get here, and the only medicine he had to treat his pain was ibuprofen,” said Eby.
The Coast Guard elected to medevac the patient the following morning because of the stormy weather conditions. The clinic’s physician’s assistant administered pain medication to the injured fisherman while he waited nearly twelve hours to be medevaced.

“We could hear the wind howling and hitting the building,” Eby said. “It’s pretty unnerving when you’re sitting with a patient and the wind is just pummeling the clinic.”
Adding to the challenges, the clinic received another 9-1-1 call at 1:30 a.m. on March 11th that a baby was having trouble breathing. Another physician’s assistant, Vince Perino, monitored the injured fisherman throughout the night. Eby then drove to the baby’s home because the mother of the one-month-old infant didn’t have a car. Eby determined the baby was in respiratory distress and needed to come to the clinic for further treatment.

“While I was waiting for the baby’s grandma to come sit with the infant, he stopped breathing in my arms, which was really scary,” Eby said.

Eby was able to revive the baby. After administering breathing treatments at the clinic, Eby contacted an emergency room doctor at the Alaska Native Medical Center, who urged her to arrange for a medevac. The Coast Guard decided to conduct two separate medevacs from King Cove. The baby had to be monitored for seven hours before help arrived at 8:45 a.m. the following morning. About 90 minutes later, the Coast Guard medevaced the fisherman.
“Thank God the Coast Guard was able to come in, complete their mission and save the lives of these two patients,” Eby said. “This is the fourth time the Coast Guard has conducted a medevac in King Cove this year alone.”