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Coast Guard braves storm to save Vineyard newborn
In the teeth of a fierce coastal storm, the Martha's Vineyard lifeline that is the United States Coast Guard provided lifesaving assistance Monday for an Island newborn in need of advanced medical care.
The winds were gusting past 40 miles per hour when Coast Guard pilot Tom Maine, co-pilot Lieutenant JG Ryan Tickell, flight mechanic Glenn Hosford and rescue swimmer Alan Auricchio lifted off in the Jayhawk and flew to Boston where they were met about 10 am by a neonatal team, consisting of a doctor, a neonatal nurse practitioner, two neonatal intensive care unit nurses and a respiratory therapist.
A member of the Floating Hospital for Children monitors a newborn during a helicopter fight from Martha's Vineyard Hospital.
The neonatal team arrived in time for the births of Pedro and Gabriell Gomes. Gabriell did not survive. The Island and Boston medical teams then moved quickly to complete the transfer to Boston of tiny Pedro, who weighed only 2.12 pounds.
Every emergency presents unique circumstances, said Lieutenant Tickell. For the crew flying a newborn infant in the spartan interior of a Jayhawk helicopter buffeted by wind and rain, time was of the essence.
The aircrew returned the team and infant in their care to Tufts-New England Medical about 12:30 pm, according to a Coast Guard press release.
Lieutenant Tickell said it was a rewarding mission. The transfer provided a good example of team effort, Lt. Commander Bender explained. "It wasn't just one organization that helped make this happen," she said.
Dr. Bender said she sent an e-mail Tuesday morning to the members of the Jayhawk crew to let them know that the baby was doing exceptionally well and breathing on its own. "They like to hear when their efforts result in someone doing well," she said.
Speaking yesterday afternoon from Viviane's room in the Martha's Vineyard Hospital, the twins' father, Jair Dias, a construction worker from Brazil who has lived on the Island for about five years, said mother was doing fine and would probably be released Thursday. Speaking for both of them, he said, "We want to say thank you to everyone who was involved. The Coast Guard, all the doctors, everyone."
A neonatal medical team is led by a Coast Guard helicopter crewman to an awaiting Jayhawk helicopter at the Floating Hospital for Children at Tufts New England Medical Center. Photos provided by USCG.
The transfer in severe weather conditions is just the type of emergency situation described in a memorandum of agreement concluded Feb. 14 among the Coast Guard, Boston MedFlight, Martha's Vineyard Hospital, and Nantucket Cottage Hospital.
The agreement is designed to improve communication and coordination between Boston MedFlight, the Coast Guard, and the hospitals when medical transfers are needed. It relies on the Coast Guard only for the most serious incidents and when there are no other alternative services available.