An 83-year old woman has been transported off a cruise ship northwest of Geraldton via emergency helicopter after experiencing a medical episode onboard. The Australian Maritime Safety Authority received a request for help at 12:08 pm on Thursday, April 27 from the P&O cruise ship Pacific Explorer, located approximately 150km northwest of Geraldton. A Jandakot-based RAC Rescue Helicopter and Perth-based Challenger jet were deployed, and the woman was evacuated at approximately 5:40 pm before being transported to Geraldton where she spent the night. Today she was transferred by the Royal Flying Doctors Service to Sir Charles Gardner Hospital, according to WA Country Health Service. P&O Cruises Australia said it would not be commenting on the individual’s situation but said the health and safety of guests was their number one priority. “We have a highly experienced medical team on board and on occasions, we seek the support of ambulance services,” Senior PR Manager Michelle Bartolo said. “Like all land-based settings, this is normal procedure for cruising and ensures our guests are seen to in a timely manner.” The RAC helicopter landed at Geraldton Airport about 3pm to refuel. The wait time reiterates the call for a rescue helicopter to be based in Geraldton, raised by politicians, researchers and emergency service volunteers in January after it took nearly six hours for an RAC helicopter to rescue a sick passenger off the AIDAmar cruise ship, 140km off the Geraldton coast. Edith Cowan University researcher David Ford, who has studied the benefits of rescue helicopters, said the Mid West and neighbouring regions would benefit from a rescue helicopter. “For a place like Geraldton, they’re going to provide an important service for rescues, shaving probably an hour-and-a-half off response times,” he said. The State Government said it plans to bring in three new helicopters to its Jandakot and Bunbury bases, which will be able to fly further and will contain enhanced technology.