US Navy rescues hiker from jungle.
Debra Paver, a lawyer from Melbourne, had been hiking the Kokoda Trail in the Owen Stanley Mountain Range of Papua New Guinea as part of the Kokoda Spirit tour group. She became ill and was taken to Alola Village where she experienced seizures and was in and out of consciousness.
The crew of Mercy, at the request of the US Embassy in Port Moresby, launched an MH-60S Knighthawk helicopter from Helicopter Combat Support Squadron 21, based out of San Diego.
"There were clouds everywhere. We flew at 10,000' just to be clear of the clouds," said Navy Lt. Beth Dassler, the helicopter aircraft commander. "We made a couple of passes over the landing site, looking for a break in the clouds. When we found one we went for it." The aircrew landed on a small patch of land in a dense fog bank, 6,000' up in the mountains.
"She was awake but not coherent," said Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Justin Foxworth, who was first to treat Paver. "We transported her to the helo to get her an IV." The aircrew flew Paver to the Mercy where her condition was further evaluated. Paver received treatment in the intensive care unit of the Mercy and within 24 hours, her condition improved from critical to stable condition.
"I am feeling a bit better," said Paver. "I couldn't be happier. I am very happy because I was quite sick and I am glad I am here"
The hospital ship Mercy is anchored off the coast of Port Moresby in support of Pacific Partnership 2008, a humanitarian civic assistance mission to Southeast Asia and Oceania. The medical, dental, and civic action programs are coordinated with the government of Papua New Guinea and partner nations, such as Australia, Canada, Chile, Republic of Korea, New Zealand and India, to assist and provide local communities with a wide range of services.--Lt. Arwen Chisholm, Pacific Partnership Public Affairs