Super rescue: RSAF airlifts cancer-stricken woman from cruise in darkness

Super rescue: RSAF airlifts cancer-stricken woman from cruise in darkness

She was out at sea when the cancer she has been battling for six years took a turn for the worse.

Doctors on board the cruise ship treated her, but to no avail.

Madam Lesley Jenkins, 71, needed to get to a hospital fast and she did, thanks to the swift response by the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF).

The Australian, who was on board a cruise ship that was 150 nautical miles (278km) from Singapore, had to be carefully winched from the vessel and flown in a Super Puma helicopter to the Singapore General Hospital (SGH).

The ship was on a 20-day cruise from Sydney to Singapore. It was heading to Bangkok at the time of the incident.

The dramatic rescue operation early last month, which was shared on the RSAF's Facebook page on Monday, got more than 600 likes and many comments praising their work.

Madam Jenkins had been cleared by her doctors to go on on a cruise on the MV Diamond Princess with her husband.

But during her trip, she started to suffer from complications related to her cancer.

After four days of treatment, the medical staff on board felt that due to her condition, Madam Jenkins would not have been able to hold on until the ship reached the next port of call, said Medical Officer Captain (Doctor) Matthew Yeo, who was part of the six-man rescue crew.

The ship was quite far from land, so the best option for her was evacuation, the 27-year-old national serviceman added.

As it was within Singapore's search and rescue region, the ship contacted the Singapore Rescue Co-ordination Centre, which in turn activated the crew at Sembawang Air Base at 2.17am on March 6.

The duty crew immediately grabbed their gear while the ground staff assisted with preparations. Within 10 minutes, they were airborne in their Super Puma helicopter.

When Captain Irving Chieng, 33, heard the announcement "Scramble for Rescue 10", his first thought was how to get to the mission area as quickly and safely as possible.

The pilot and commander of the rescue mission said such missions have a lot of uncertainties, from weather conditions to the patient's condition.

"It could be raining cats and dogs over at the area of operations while we are sitting in a nice, cool environment (back at base)," he said.

The mission was made more challenging by the darkness of night, said Capt Chieng.

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