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BVI Helicopter Pilot Saves Woman Hit By Powerboat

In the BVI, most of us know Brad Hanger, owner and pilot of Island Helicopters International, as a quiet, unassuming man. But we also know that he offers a valuable service to those of us living in the area, as his helicopters are the safest and fastest way to medivac from the BVI to hospitals in Puerto Rico.

Recently, these same skills were required by a young woman who was swimming in St. Kitts when a powerboat hit her. Brad’s associate, Jan Dart, received a call just before 5 p.m. from Capt. David Hutchinson on the M/V Atlantic Goose requesting a helicopter to take a patient from St. Kitts to Puerto Rico for emergency medical surgery. Hutchinson was on a nearby vessel, anchored off the bow of the charter yacht involved. When the accident happened, he surmised the state of shock, not only of the victim but also the entire crew, and, quite fortunately, took over.

At the time, Brad was on a charter in the vicinity of St. Maarten. Jan called Brad and gave him David Hutcheson’s message and phone number. Brad received the call at 17:15. Flying a Bell 222 N222NK, a twin engine Bell Helicopter, he literally took off for St. Kitts while still on the phone.

The patient, Sabrina McTaggart, was visiting the island from London, UK. She was swimming near the charter yacht where she was a guest, when she was run over by a fishing boat in the area – her arm was severely severed. Sabrina was taken to the St. Kitts Hospital in total shock when Brad arrived and was in the company of good Samaritans – Mr. & Mrs. Bernard Dreesmann.

Brad arrived at the airstrip in St. Kitts at 1800. Sabrina’s friends, the Dreesmanns, along with Nurse Bass from the St. Kitts’ Hospital, quickly put her into an ambulance to meet the helicopter at the airfield. Brad then flew his patient to San Juan, Puerto Rico, arriving at 2020. As other good Samaritans, U.S. Customs and Immigration came out to the helicopter from the Immigration Office. This quick check-in allowed Brad to take his helicopter directly to the Centro Medico’s Helipad and in so doing valuable time was not lost in shutting down and checking into Immigration offices. This action helped save Sabrina’s arm.

Island Helicopters International is based in the British Virgin Islands and offer a valuable service to those of us living in the BVI, providing emergency medical transfers from the outer islands in the BVI to Peebles Hospital in Road Town and from Peebles to hospitals in St. Thomas and Puerto Rico. The BVI really doesn’t need a bigger hospital as much as it needs a more sophisticated medical emergency program such as a Trauma Center with several resident medical helicopters, which would greatly increase patient care. No one would be more in favor of this than Brad Hanger.

Before All At Sea went to press, Island Helicopters received word from Capt. Hutchinson that the patient’s arm was saved and with proper care and therapy, Sabrina should regain the use of her arm. We can all be most thankful that Hutchinson was in the area and turned out to be an invaluable Samaritan of the Sea.

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