Potential life-saving service launched

Published:  24 April, 2020

Global healthcare provider Iqarus, an International SOS company, has announced it extended its new service to safely manage suspected cases of coronavirus following their disembarkation from an offshore location to support the Southern North Sea.

Following the success of the Covid-19 Medevac (CMED) service in Aberdeen which cares for an average of two patients a day, the service is now available to support assets in the Southern North Sea through one of Iqarus’ strategic partners in Norwich.

The new CMED service includes assessments to determine if a worker is fit to travel, and the provision of tailored advice from the Iqarus clinical team, developed in line with current Health Protection Scotland guidance.

Since the first reports of a confirmed case of coronavirus (COVID-19) on an offshore installation in the Norwegian section of the North Sea, there has been a steady increase of suspected and confirmed cases.

The busiest weekend saw 22 patients who were either showing symptoms or were in contact with a positive case were assessed and safely transported back onshore through the CMED service.

Iqarus has been working round the clock with its client base to support them in mitigating their risk, encouraging clients to closely monitor the situation and advise them on how best to safely continue operations.

The global healthcare provider has now developed a service to support clients with the receipt, transfer and assessment of suspected cases of COVID-19 from heliports which allows duty holders to meet their obligation to assess patients and determine if they are fit for onward travel.

Additionally, employing companies may wish to access the service to assist them in fulfilling their duty of care to staff who have been medevac with suspected Covid-19.

Dr Stuart Scott, clinical director, offshore, topside and diving at Iqarus explained: “Offshore assets are confined spaces, with plenty of movement by multinational staff on and off the rig, usually by helicopter between onshore bases in the UK and Norway.

“With cases increasing across both the countries, it was only ever a matter of time before the virus spread to offshore platforms.”

In order to offer a solution to the growing concern of operators and offshore workers, Iqarus can now offer clinically appropriate transport from Norwich heliports to its dedicated reception centre.

Following initial offshore assessment from the asset medic, the patient will then be transported via bespoke helicopters – aptly dubbed ‘the corona copter’ – that meet full hygiene standards for each trip.

Upon arrival onshore the patient is assessed following which specialist clinicians will advise suitability for onward travel or alternatively, refer them to the next point of assessment.

Dr Scott continued: “Having successfully launched the service in Aberdeen, we were keen to duplicate efforts in Norwich and service clients operating in the Southern North Sea. This now streamlines the process of evacuating suspected or confirmed cases, and returning them to shore for appropriate treatment, whilst safely managing the wellbeing of others. Mitigating further spread of the virus is paramount, and we believe that this latest offering helps in the fight against Covid-19.”

The new opt- in service, CMED, is available to all duty holders in line with HSE L123 as well as any employing companies wishing to extend the service to their employees where this is not currently in place through the duty holder. Fully risk assessed, it is the exclusive means by which Iqarus will use a medevac for suspected COVID-19 cases.

Dr Scott also reminds clients and the wider business community that following government guidelines and best practice for good hygiene is still key to restricting the spread of the virus.

“For offices, we recommend following the standard guidance for any business in terms of good hygiene and travel screening. It’s all about educating employees and keeping them informed. We all have a responsibility to protect the people who work for us and with us”, he said.

“In addition to providing accurate information, especially during the initial uncertain period when a new virus emerges, advice on how to mitigate further risks and ensure business continuity should be shared.”

Iqarus’ key recommendations include:

• Government advice remains that those who develop symptoms of a new continuous / persistent cough, or a high temperature (above 38oC) should self-isolate for 7 days

• Those who share a household with someone who develops these symptoms should self-isolate for 14 days to ensure they do not develop symptoms themselves.

• People who are asymptomatic are advised to follow social distancing measures to minimise the spread of Covid-19.

• This advice also applies to those mobilising to offshore installations. Individual installation operators will risk assess individuals who have travelled internationally within the last 14 days.

• Employees should be further assessed in line with current government, OGUK and Operator (where applicable) guidance on vulnerable groups.

• If there are any concerns as to whether a particular individual should mobilise offshore, these should be discussed with your Medical Advisor and recommendations will be made on a case by case basis.

Iqarus, which has been providing healthcare solutions for the oil and gas industry for more than 40 years, delivers effective medical and occupational health services in complex and demanding operating environments.

As the largest provider of healthcare to the industry, its medical and security experts have extensive experience supporting clients in previous outbreaks including Ebola, Zika virus, plague, SARS, bird flu and the H1N1 2009 influenza pandemic.

For anyone interested in finding out more about the CMED service, please contact Claire Westbrook-Keir.

For more information on protecting your organisation: https://www.internationalsos.com/client-magazines/novel-coronavirus

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