Safeguarding the health and safety of personnel stationed offshore has never been such a relevant topic. Not least due to the effects of the global pandemic, but also regarding the regular risks offshore medics face whilst operating in hostile environments.
The anchor to offshore health; that ensures medical best practice, oversees working conditions, and works tirelessly to keep personnel protected is the offshore medic. RMI provides highly experienced offshore medics for some of the most remote, hostile environments in the world.
Our medics are recruited through a rigorous selection process and have extensive knowledge and experience in working offshore.
A Day in the Life
No two days in the life of an offshore medic are the same. Utilizing their skills, of which adaptability and resilience rank highly, the role is diverse, pressured, and can be very unpredictable. As the sole clinician responsible for all personnel health offshore, the medic is responsible for two core functions.
These include preserving and promoting the mental and physical health of all personnel as well as responding to and ensuring the safe management of patients who need emergency care.
The offshore medic is also responsible for managing the ‘sick bay’, the colloquially termed epicenter where routine and emergency care is carried out on vessels, offshore rigs, and platforms.
Not only do they provide 24-hour medical care from this hub, but the offshore medic will also advise on health and safety issues. They will first-aid train other personnel onsite, keep accurate medical records for all staff and carry out a range of activities to ensure health and safety standards are adhered to.
Ensuring All Pandemic Related Guidelines Are Met
In the COVID-19 era, the medics are also responsible for ensuring all pandemic-related guidelines are met and that cross-party collaboration is achieved to help mitigate the spread of the virus.
This means making sure all staff are educated and trained regarding the risks of contamination and that government COVID-19 safe guidelines are met at all times. This is a task that is challenging in itself due to the spatially limited work environments faced offshore.
RMI has been at the forefront of fighting the spread of COVID-19 since the pandemic started. Across three coastal sites in the UK for example, RMI has successfully provided and administered over 18,695 (accurate as of 9th July 2021) lateral flow and Rapid PCR tests for a client in the North Sea.
For more information on the work RMI has done in the fight against COVID-19, click here (https://www.remotemedical.com/services/covid-19-services/testing/).
RMI Medics Reduce the Impact of Distance on Providing Emergency Response Medical Care
An example of this has been demonstrated by the outstanding recent work of RMI offshore medic Adrian Wharam who is currently stationed on the Highlander platform approximately 154 miles off the coast of Aberdeen in Scotland.
Adrian originally started his medical journey working for the National Health Service (NHS) in the Intensive Care Unit at the Royal Lancaster Infirmary in the North West of England.
Assuming this role for around 12 years, Adrian eventually ventured offshore in 2008 where he gained valuable experience working on ships and construction vessels in the far corners of international seas.
In 2016, Adrian as a UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE) approved offshore medic became stationed on the Highlander platform in the North Sea as the sole offshore medic responsible for personnel safety onsite.
Adrian’s Role on the Highlander
Adrian’s role on the Highlander is like that of any offshore medic operating in a distant and isolated environment. His primary role is to attend to any medical emergencies, but a large proportion of time is also spent on occupational health and care.
The eclectic mix of medical occurrences; trauma, illnesses, psychological issues, can all be faced in one day by an offshore medic.
In Adrian’s time offshore on the Highlander, he has successfully implemented a ‘well man’ clinic, which contributed considerable support for those in need during the recent government-imposed lockdowns faced in the UK.
Working three weeks on and three weeks off, on a 7 am to 7 pm rotation, Adrian works solo as the primary medical caregiver to ensure staff safety is held at the forefront of priorities during operations offshore.
Photos: Taken by RMI offshore medic, Adrian Wharam, currently stationed on the Highlander platform, Aberdeen.
Adrian’s Skills and Experience Were Recently Put to the Test
As well as his continued support, acting as a remote clinical interviewer conducting remote health assessments as well as attending to minor medical occurrences, Adrian’s skills and experience were recently put to the test in a highly time sensitive scenario.
Upon realising a staff member had fallen ill, a colleague alerted Adrian to the situation. It became apparent that a medical evacuation was needed immediately.
The situation was made all the more complicated when it was realised that the patient was suffering from a time-sensitive medical emergency at a height, approximately 25 metres up a crane.
The clock was ticking and Adrian had to mobilise cross-party support in order to orchestrate the successful retrieval of the patient whilst stabilising their medical condition.
Medical Equipment Delivered Up to the Patient
With almost stoic resolve, Adrian was able to successfully have his medical equipment delivered up to the patient. This was done by harnessing the skills of the rope technician team, whilst simultaneously priming the deck crew, section leaders, safety advisors and first aid teams for a medical evacuation.
The patient was assessed in situ, safely lowered to the main deck and transported to the sick bay for further medical attention. At this point, the UK Coastguard had already scrambled a Search and Rescue Helicopter, who were on their way.
Whilst Adrian stabilised the patient, the stretcher crew readied the patient for the helicopter paramedic, ensuring they were warm and secure.
The result: less than a 3-hour window from the patient falling critically ill 154 miles offshore to arriving in definitive care.
An Incredibly Important Role for Clients
Adrian is a highly valued member of the RMI team and he plays an incredibly important role for our clients in the North Sea. On working with RMI, Adrian explains that “it’s an incredibly varied role and one I love because I get to collaborate with some amazing people and clients.”
Although cross-party collaboration is necessary for most medical emergencies, it is the calm, governing presence of the experienced medic that brings everyone together in medical emergencies.
For more information on Adrian or to apply for a role as an RMI medic, watch the video below and click here (https://www.remotemedical.com/join-our-team/field-positions/).
Cross-party collaboration is a common theme that dictates the work of an offshore medic. Without sufficient policies and guidelines in place at a top-level, the work of an offshore medic would arguably be impossible. This is where clinical governance plays such an important role in the offshore medical suite of services.
The Role of Clinical Governance
RMI Clinical Governance Consultant Paul Savage OBE works alongside Dr. Paddy Morgan in the UK to set all governing medical policies and procedures, of which medics must adhere. UK medicine differs greatly to its counterpart in the US and indeed anywhere else in the world.
“There is no such thing as globally universal medicine”, as Paul succinctly states, which is the reason why clearly defined operating guidelines specific to each geographical location and the laws within them are so important.
In the UK, the differences can occur at a granular level, with governance parameters varying even within areas of the UK, NHS or from one ambulance service to the next. It is important, therefore, to have one overarching set of rules and principles that outline exactly how RMI medics can operate.
Operational Medicine Focus
Operational medicine is at the heart of what Paul focusses on for RMI. Clinical practice guidelines cover all of the working parameters medics must adhere to when carrying out their duties. It’s the clinical policy suite too that forms a regulated framework within which the care carried out above can be given.
Manual handling, resuscitation, body recovery, and many other components of the medic’s working scope are controlled and accounted for.
On the importance of clinical governance, Paul explains “ robust and defendable Clinical Governance, appropriate for the remote working environment, allows RMI Providers to offer safe and effective care for their patients working inside a system that protects them as well as their patients”.
Setting Policies Concerning Standardised Equipment
The role Paul carries out for RMI is also important for setting policies concerning standardised equipment and what is stored onsite, including drugs. Setting educational standards, such as ensuring all medics are adequately qualified, fall too within Paul’s scope as well as maintaining a secure database of patient records.
It plays an integral role in the successful day-today activities that offshore medics carry out.
To ensure the health and safety of offshore personnel is managed successfully, a number of parties have to work together to achieve a mutual goal. Yet it is the offshore medic, stationed miles out to sea where the hands-on responsibility falls in the case of a medical emergency.
Without cross-party support, working with other medical practitioners and the overarching framework set by clinical governance, the offshore medic’s job would almost be impossible.
Get in touch for more information about our offshore medics and how RMI can help transform your offshore operation’s health and safety.Transform Offshore Health and Safety