Medical Solutions for a Remote Environment
When your company needs to understand the full medical risks of a remote project, requires on-the-ground medical support and equipment, and necessitates a customised evacuation plan, it can be daunting. This is exactly what an international oil and gas company required to support their geological exploration and drilling expedition in Mauritania. Project manager, Javier Artime, commissioned International SOS to provide medical support for the seven month project.
In just six-months, International SOS had to develop a robust operational plan to care for approximately one hundred employees- geologists, seismologists, engineers, and Mauritanian security staff - in four teams spread over a desert area of nearly 10,000 square kilometres. The location of the main camp was challenging, three-four days drive to the nearest city or hospital, with extreme temperature changes, sandstorms, venomous wildlife and poor or non-existent roads.
International SOS assigned a medical director familiar with the health and security profile of Mauritania to the project. He undertook a Site Health Review highlighting the project’s endemic health risks, the quality and capability of local medical facilities, and staffing requirements including appropriate personnel profile.
Our comprehensive plan for medical support had five main components:
- Ensuring that all international assignees are medically fit for work and had appropriate inoculations through our medical screening and vaccination programmes.
- Establishing a medical base camp with a container clinic stocked with medicines, oxygen, breathing equipment, syringe driver, defibrillators and stretchers, and travelling camps with Emergency Medical Response Equipment.
- Setting up a communications system suitable for the terrain - satellite phones, communications gear including VHF and Inmarsat, and satellite mapping to monitor the teams on the ground.
- Appointing appropriate medical personnel, including an internationally accredited French/English speaking doctor skilled in remote and emergency medicine, and four anaesthetic nurses selected for their technical skills with the right mindset to work in the harsh environment;
- Developing a customised evacuation response plan, coordinated through our Paris Assistance Centre, with a pre-determined approval process, points of contact, air ambulance/ helicopter providers, and an agreed communications process with the company.
Although we had 300 medical consultations in seven months - minor ailments, skins, headaches, and sprains - not a single working day was lost due to accident or illness. When not attending to patients, the International SOS doctor spent his time inspecting the site’s sanitation and water supply and putting together weekly reports for the managers on the camp’s health standards.
The company’s operations ran smoothly. Having an experienced partner like International SOS on-the-ground, and access to our medical expertise and infrastructure was a great comfort to the company and staff alike.