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RAF airlift man to hospital off ferry

PUBLISHED: 04:40 13 January 2002 | UPDATED: 11:10 03 March 2010

WATTISHAM RAF helicopter crew performed a dramatic emergency airlift off the Essex coast after a ferry passenger suffered an epileptic fit on board a passenger ferry.

WATTISHAM RAF helicopter crew performed a dramatic emergency airlift off the Essex coast after a ferry passenger suffered an epileptic fit on board a passenger ferry.

The 44-year-old British national was taken ill as the DFDS vessel Admiral of Scandinavia was en route from Harwich to Hamburg.

The luxury liner had set out from the Essex port and was about two hours into its 20-hour voyage when the man was taken ill.

Medical staff aboard the vessel were informed and the ship's master made radio contact with the Coastguard Agency base at Great Yarmouth, who quickly contacted the RAF search and rescue unit based at Wattisham airfield, near Stowmarket.

Meanwhile, the skipper of the Admiral of Scandinavia turned the vessel around and began heading back toward Harwich, to speed up the rendezvous with the helicopter crew.

B Flight 22 Squadron from Wattisham was scrambled and attended the scene in a Sea King Mark 3a helicopter. It took the crew just over an hour to safely airlift the man to Ipswich Hospital after they were called out by crew on the boat which set sail at 4pm yesterday .

Squadron Leader Simon Snashall, who co-piloted the aircraft, said: "We got the call from the coastguard about 6.45pm and were airborne by 6.55pm. We arrived on scene at 7.20pm, took twenty minutes to secure the patient and were at Ipswich Hospital by 8pm.

"Everything went very smoothly."

He praised his squad's quick response time and ability to get the man to hospital in the quickest time possible.

"The patient was certainly bad enough to require hospital treatment but I am not qualified to say if his condition was life threatening or not," added Sqn Ldr Snashall.

"It took us over an hour to get the man to hospital so if we were not there it would have taken several hours more.

"If someone is left untreated following a fit then it can be life threatening in the worst case scenario."

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