Commendation for Tobermory lifeboat crew in cruise ship medevac in May 2015

Tobermory RNLI’s volunteer crew have been commended by the RNLI for their ‘compassion and professionalism’ in trying to resuscitate a seriously ill casualty on a cruise ship in May 2015.

On 24th May, Tobermory Coastguard contacted Coxswain Andrew McHaffie advising that a casualty had suffered a suspected heart attack aboard a cruise ship in the Sound of Mull – and was being transferred ashore by the cruise ship’s tender.

Whilst the Coxswain, Mechanic and two members of the crew were waiting at the pontoon, it transpired that the casualty had stopped breathing and was still aboard the cruise ship.

Tobermory’s Severn Class lifeboat, Elizabeth Fairlie Ramsey, was immediately launched, crewed by Coxswain Andrew McHaffie, Mechanic James ‘Gunny’ Gunn and crew members Mark ‘Wiksey’ Whitaker, Donald Mitchell, Tony ‘Kiwi’ Spillane, Mhairi McAdam and Michael Stirling. Also aboard were two ambulance crew and their equipment.

The ambulance crew and volunteer lifeboat crew member, Mhairi McAdam, were transferred to the cruise ship. CPR continued to be delivered to the casualty and he was successfully transferred to the lifeboat. The lifeboat proceeded at full speed back to the station with CPR continuing and the casualty was transferred to an ambulance. The Coxswain and lifeboat crew together with a police officer were requested to assist the ambulance crew with delivering CPR to the casualty whilst he was transported to meet the air ambulance.

Sadly, despite everyone’s best efforts, the casualty did not survive.

RNLI Operations Director, George Rawlinson, wrote in his letter of commendation: ‘This must have been a very challenging and distressing service for all involved. Coxswain, Andrew McHaffie, and trainee crew member, Mhairi McAdam, did excellent work attempting to resuscitate the casualty for a protracted period of time. I appreciate the compassion and professionalism demonstrated by the crew. They did all that they could in these difficult circumstances.’

Tobermory Lifeboat Operations Manager, Ian Stevens says: ‘This was an example of team work at its very best, not only by the lifeboat crew but also the other emergency services involved in the incident. Our thoughts are with the family and friends of the deceased.’

The commitment to the value of a life shown by Andrew McHaffie and Mhairi McAdam in this incident is the core value of the RNLI itself; and is the sort of care and determination everyone would hope for in extremis. This is an important commendation and a very well placed one.

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