TUCSON – On July 10, members of the Davis-Monthan Air Force Base’s 563d Rescue Group responded to an urgent request for the specialized skills on behalf of two critically injured Mexican fishermen.
The fishermen were injured when their vessel’s crane collapsed more than 1300 miles southwest of San Diego in international waters at approximately 8 p.m., July 9.
Due to the ship’s isolated location and the severe nature of the injuries, Pararescuemen from the 48th Rescue Squadron parachuted from the HC-130J into the ocean, according to Airman 1st Class Kristine Legate. They intercepted and boarded the vessel, and provided trauma care for the injured fishermen.
“The relationship that was built with the captain of the ship allowed a seamless integration of our PJs medical capabilities to be able to provide the best treatment for the two injured fishermen,” said Captain John Conner, 48th RQS flight commander of flight 3. “It also allowed us the opportunity to work how we were going to transfer the patient on the ship to Socorro Island. That relationship was key.”
“The unsaid skill Air Force Rescue offers is the ability to solve difficult problems in a timely fashion. This mission highlights rescue professionals’ ability to network within the 563d RQG, 355th Wing and a greater Tucson medical community to solve an incredibly difficult problem, and continue solving problems throughout the mission’s execution which can be seen by the infil methods, follow-on aerial resupply, and transfer of care/exfil conditions,” said Captain Michael Erickson, 48th RQS director of operations. “Air Force Rescue’s successful execution of the mission demonstrates one of the ways Davis-Monthan’s culture of readiness and problem solving skills can support the greater joint force and our mission partners.”
After reaching Socorro harbor on Friday evening, July 12, the pararescuemen transferred the fishermen to the Mexican naval medical clinic on the island where they would stay overnight. The next day an air ambulance transported them to Mazatlan, Mexico for further treatment.