Woman, 81, rescued from cruise ship off SD coast

Posted at 9:53 AM, May 31, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-31 21:51:20-04

An 81-year-old woman was evacuated from a cruise ship off the coast of San Diego early Tuesday after she experienced symptoms of a heart attack, the U.S. Coast Guard reported.

The San Diego sector of the Coast Guard was contacted by crew on the Carnival Imagination cruise ship about 9 p.m. Monday, while the ship was about 33 miles from La Jolla.

Coast Guardsman Michael Innis keeps the 45-foot rescue boat up and running. It is what he was tasked with Monday night.

"We were sitting in the duty room playing video games," he said.

Crew members were about to go to bed at the end of the holiday weekend when the alarm sounded.

"We all jumped up … and actually more than just the crew jumped up and ran into the station to get ready to go," Innis added.

The Coast Guard's flight surgeon said not to send a helicopter for fear it would exacerbate her symptoms.

They picked up the woman, her worried husband and a nurse, and they all returned to shore about 12:30 a.m. Tuesday.

The woman was wearing an oxygen mask, but she did not need to talk.

"You could see it in her eyes that she seemed grateful that we were there," Innis added.

The boat was fine, but she was cold.

"When we go out, and we interact with the public, most of the time it's going to be their worst day," he explained. "We were able to get her some blankets and warm her up … kind of tuck her feet in."

As the engineer, Innis did not think he would be tucking an elderly woman's toes in, but he knows the next call could be your loved one or his.

"If it was a family member on a cruise ship, I would want the same thing," he added.

The woman was taken by paramedics to Scripps Mercy Hospital in Hillcrest.

Her condition is unknown.