'Urgent evacuation' from cruise ship off Ballina
UPDATE, 12.30pm: A CRUISE ship company has confirmed that one of its guests needed urgent medical attention off the coast of Ballina.
"One of the guests onboard Carnival Splendor was in need of urgent medical care ashore due to a medical condition that is not contagious," a spokeswoman said.
"The guest was successfully disembarked via helicopter at 11am this morning off the coast of Australia.
"The ship has resumed course to Sydney.
"There is no impact to the itinerary. Carnival Splendor is on a 9-day South Pacific cruise, she is returning to Sydney as scheduled tomorrow."
Original story: A CRITICAL care medical team from the Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter has been winched onto a cruise ship off the coast of Ballina.
Graham Nickisson from the rescue chopper confirmed a crew had been sent to aid a passenger earlier today.
"We have called to a cruise ship this morning just after 9am which is 70 nautical miles east of Ballina," he said.
"There was a passenger who suffered a serious medical condition and needed urgent evacuation, a 50-year-old man returning from Noumea on the ship.
"Suffice to say we had to winch the medical team aboard the ship."
Mr Nickisson said the critical care medical team was put on board and the helicopter returned to its Lismore base to refuel.
"The helicopter then has gone back and rendezvoused with the ship," he said.
"They winched the patient back on board (the helicopter) and flew them straight to the Gold Coast University Hospital."
The patient is in a stable condition and will undergo further specialist treatment.
During the rescue operation a "top cover" Challenger aircraft from AusSar (Australian Search and Rescue) was sent from Essendon in Melbourne to watch over proceedings and provide Search and Rescue for the helicopter.