MEMBER NEWS: Medical Emergency Response in the Most Volatile Onshore Environments

May 20, 2021
MEMBER NEWS: Medical Emergency Response in the Most Volatile Onshore Environments

Delivering projects in onshore and offshore wind often comes unanimously with operating in volatile, hard-to-reach environments.

For GE Renewable Energy, the Bjorkvattnet onshore wind project situated 18 miles Southwest of Ramsele in central Sweden is no different.

Emergency Response in Remote Environments

Remote Medical International (RMI), led by Senior Project Manager Ashley Saunders, are supporting GE in the supply of 33 wind turbines that will be responsible for powering the equivalent of 175,000 Swedish homes.

The project involves the deployment of a team of highly qualified Global Wind Organisation (GWO) trained paramedics, responsible for first response and paramedic care of all personnel stationed at the site.

Volatile Weather and Working Under Pressure

The GE Bjorkvattnet project, due to its location, comes with a number of unique challenges that make ensuring a safe working environment onsite difficult.

RMI medics stationed onsite have to deal with sub-zero temperatures and weather conditions that include extreme wind and snowfall. When there is the possibility of landslides, snow drifts, blockages and falling debris, it is paramount to have a team of medical emergency response professionals who are experienced in providing the best quality medical care under pressure.

Reducing the Impact of Distance on Medical Response Time

In locations like Bjorkvattnet, it is incredibly important to have a team of paramedics who can provide rapid, high quality care whilst awaiting the support of the national emergency services.

RMI have deployed an efficient system, working with GE personnel out of a fully serviced clinic in Ramsele that doubles as a walk-in clinic for local residents. The paramedics that man the worksite operate on two-week rotations and often station themselves as a preventative measure at locations where incident occurrence could be higher. When they’re not on the clock accompanying staff travelling out to site from their Ramsele base, they are continually utilising their skills by working with the local ambulance service.

In the case of GE, no incidents have occurred and are unlikely due to the safety measures and protocols in place by working with RMI.

The Unique Challenges of Turbine Safety

Speaking generally about windfarm construction, Ashley Saunders, Senior Project Manager at RMI explains that “the columns in a generic wind turbine is incredibly cramped and the nacelles haven’t necessarily been designed with emergency access capabilities in mind”.

As a result, providing critical emergency care during the Golden Hour (the crucial period of time when prompt emergency care can result in surviving or not) is made all the more difficult.

But having a team that can reach the injured party quickly and effectively, regardless of conditions is what can help personnel operate in relative safety.

COVID-19 and its Implications

For any project, onshore or offshore, having an effective COVID-19 management plan in place is paramount in creating a safe working environment.

For GE, RMI have provided a suite of services from instigating rapid antigen testing onsite, to making sure all personnel and locations are provisioned with the correct PPE.

As with all renewable energy projects operating through the global pandemic, managing staff interactions has a direct impact on mitigating the effects of the virus potentially spreading. Working with GE, RMI have developed an effective series of protocols that personnel follow when arriving at Bjorkvattnet in order to protect those currently stationed onsite.

Despite the ongoing challenges of organising onsite, rapid testing during a period of time when demand is incredibly high, RMI have successfully worked with GE to ensure such tests are readily available for all personnel involved.

Medical Emergency Response Services

Although RMI’s partnership with GE on the Bjorkvattnet project has been successful in terms of avoiding medical incidences, not all onshore wind projects benefit from such security.

As a result, it is important to plan for what could go wrong by initiating a comprehensive medical emergency response plan with a team of highly qualified industry professionals.

To arrange your medical emergency response plan consultation with RMI, click here.

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