washington state ferry cpr

Quick-thinking ferry passengers, crew members save man’s life

Thomas Bliss Maritime News Leave a Comment

Bravo Zulu to the Passengers and Washington State Ferry crew members who responded to the medical emergency on the Bainbridge Island Ferry run.

BAINBRIDGE ISLAND, Wash. — Passengers and crew members on a Bainbridge-bound ferry came together Sunday night to save a man’s life.

Passengers aboard the Seattle to Bainbridge ferry noticed a 60-year-old man having some sort of medical problem Sunday night. It turns out the man was having a heart attack and had stopped breathing.

Crew member John McMillian was the first person to help.

“Everybody acted unconsciously because everybody had done it so many times because of the training program here,” McMillian said.

Realizing the situation was dire, crew members put out a call to see if any doctors were on board. Dr. Caroline Edwards and a nurse responded.

“It is so hard to have a person right in front of you who is currently not alive and you are just giving everything you can to try and focus on trying to bring them back,” said Edwards, a physician at Virginia Mason Medical Center.

An automated external defibrillator, which is carried on board every ferry, gave instructions for how to use the machine.

“In this case being able to start CPR right away and to shock his heart right away makes what I hope is all the world of difference,” Edwards said.

In the middle of everything, the ferry captain took drastic action and made an emergency landing at Seattle’s Colman Dock.

“That is rare,” said port captain Bill Michael. “That’s the first time I can recall us doing that.”

The move got the patient to the hospital quicker, saving roughly 45 minutes of travel time.

The team of crew members and passengers was able get a heart beat and the man began breathing again. Dr. Edwards credits the quick action of the ferry captain, the AED unit, and the crew for bringing the man back to life.

“It’s horrible, thank God it happened on our boat rather than out on the highway,” McMillian said.

The man is now being treated at Swedish Hosptial. There have been 42 medical emergies on board ferries this year.