Global healthcare provider Iqarus has developed and launched a new service to safely manage suspected cases of coronavirus following their disembarkation from an offshore location.
The new service, Covid 19 Medevac (CMED), includes assessments to determine if a worker is fit to travel, and the provision of tailored advice from the Iqarus clinical team, 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.
Iqarus has worked 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 Aberdeen heliports which allows duty holders to meet their obligation to assess patients and determine if they are fit for onward travel.
“Offshore assets are confined spaces, with plenty of movement by multinational staff on and off the rig, usually by helicopter between onshore bases in Norway and the UK,” Dr Stuart Scott, Clinical Director, Offshore, Topside and Diving at Iqarus, explained. “With cases increasing across both 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 either of the Aberdeen heliports to its dedicated reception center in Aberdeen.
Following initial offshore assessment from the asset medic, the patient will then be transported via bespoke helicopters – dubbed “the corona copter” – that meet full hygiene standards for each trip.
The patient is assessed upon arrival onshore, following which the healthcare provider’s team of specialist clinicians will advise suitability for onward travel or alternatively refer them to the next point of assessment.
“Until now, returning suspected or confirmed cases back to shore for treatment was a predicament,” Dr Scott said. “The wellbeing of others and mitigation of infection spread is paramount to operations. Flying patients back brought with it concerns for pilots’ safety, whilst teams onshore have not been properly set up to deal with potentially high-risk cases.”
“This new service, further backed by the recently confirmed helicopter operators, means that we can assess those patients quickly with the best quality of care at the heart of it,” Dr Scott added.
The new opt- in service, CMED, is available to all duty holders in line with HSE L123. 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,” Dr Scott said. “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.”
“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,” Dr Scott added.
Iqarus’ key recommendations include:
- Government advice remains that those who develop symptoms of a new continuous / persistent cough, or a high temperature (above 38o°C) 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 minimize the spread of Covid-19;
- This advice also applies to those mobilizing to offshore installations. Individual installation operators will risk assess individuals who have travelled internationally within the last 14 days;
- Health Protection Scotland have advised that testing of symptomatic individuals is currently not being carried out offshore; and
- If there are any concerns as to whether a particular individual should mobilize offshore, these should be discussed with your medical advisor and recommendations will be made on a case by case basis.