OSPREY Case is Reminder That Coast Guard Cannot Come to Every Mariner’s Aid

On June 9, the US Coast Guard medically evacuated a crewman from THE NAVIGATOR tugboat in the vicinity of Gunboat Shoals, near Portsmouth, New Hampshire. According to a Coast Guard news release, the unidentified crewmember sustained a fractured leg and was transported to awaiting EMS at Station Portsmouth Harbor before being taken by ambulance to Portsmouth Regional Hospital.

While the Coast Guard saves numerous lives every year across the United States, it cannot come to every boater’s aid in every situation. The Coast Guard has to classify every case as an emergency or non-emergency situation before deploying its resources. THE NAVIGATOR rescue came one day after 40-year-old Michael Grindle died aboard THE OSPREY, a 107-foot herring trawler. The Gloucester Daily Times reported that crewmembers on board THE OSPREY contacted the Coast Guard regarding what appeared to be a “severe asthma attack” that caused Grindle to collapse. The Coast Guard notified the crew that its members would not be responding to the medical emergency at sea. “There is a Coast Guard policy of how and when we send helicopters based on survival numbers after CPR,” Bryan Swintek, Command Center Chief at Sector Southeastern New England, told the Times.

Swintek said statistics show that a person undergoing chest compressions will typically survive for under an hour without access to a heart defibrillator. The Portland Press Herald reported that the Essex District Attorney’s Office said the death did not appear suspicious, but police were investigating the discovery of a “small amount” of a “class A substance” found in Grindle’s stateroom. In Massachusetts, a Class A substance includes heroin, morphine, codeine, several other opiates and a number of designer drugs, according to the Herald.

Failure to provide a safe place to work, incompetent crew and dangerous conditions can all be considered examples of negligent conditions under the Jones Act. Latti & Anderson LLP represents injured seamen and the families of maritime workers killed because of an employer or vessel owner’s negligence. If you or your loved one sustained serious injuries while working at sea, contact our firm at (800) 392-6072 to arrange a free consultation or enter your information in the form on this page to let our Boston maritime attorneys review your case.

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