Remote locations across Africa bring several challenges, especially regarding medical evacuations. With many Greenfield projects under development across the continent, multinational organisations must ensure that they meet their duty of care requirements, including having plans in place for medical evacuations if needed. With the harsh terrain and lack of local healthcare specialists in these areas, multinational organisations are turning to companies like ATA International and Rescue South Africa to address these unique challenges and ensure they have a Medical Evacuation Response Plan (MERP) in place. In this way, workers can access the emergency medical and rescue services necessary in the case of an accident, illness or injury. Below, we identify some of the challenges that need to be managed and how ATA International and Rescue South Africa’s partnership can mitigate these.
Efficient Communication and Coordination
Efficient communication and coordination in medical evacuation (medevac) operations are critical in remote locations where access to medical facilities is limited. This process involves the rapid and safe transfer of injured or critically ill individuals from the incident site to a healthcare facility capable of providing the necessary treatment. This is because they assist with:
- Ensuring Fast and Effective Treatment – Because medical facilities might be far away, it is essential to have plans to evacuate patients swiftly and receive appropriate care. Communication and coordination ensure that the medevac teams are alerted promptly, allowing for the swift activation of the evacuation process.
- Resource Allocation – With limited medical resources available in these areas, efficient coordination enables medevac teams to optimise the use of their resources to assess the severity of patients’ conditions and prioritise care and evacuations based on the medical needs required.
- Multi-Agency Collaboration – In remote areas, multiple agencies, such as local emergency services, medical teams, and aviation units, may all be involved in a medevac operation. Efficient coordination ensures these entities work together seamlessly to streamline evacuation.
- Logistical Planning – Remote locations often lack the infrastructure for immediate evacuations. Effective communication allows medevac teams to plan logistics, including identifying suitable landing zones for helicopters or establishing ground routes.
Efficient communication and coordination are crucial in medical evacuation operations, especially in remote locations. Effective communication and coordination often rely on satellite technology, radios, and other communication tools to ensure consistent communication. Over and above this, it is vital to have a clear Medical Evacuation Response Plan (MERP) in place, and this should form part of a complete integrated healthcare management system like the one ATA International provides. ATA International will ensure that all of these procedures and protocols are in place and, in partnership with Rescue SA, will ensure that the medical personnel on-site can provide the rescue and emergency medical services required to stabilise the patient before they are evacuated.
Medical Expertise and Equipment
With limited medical resources available due to the location of many of these projects, getting access to lifesaving medical equipment can be difficult. These locations are often far from major medical centres, which could delay access to essential medical supplies, medications, and specialised care. With a lack of infrastructure, there could be an absence of the medical facilities required to provide the treatment necessary. Managing the consistent supply of medical equipment, medications, and other supplies can also be challenging due to poor road networks and rugged terrain. These elements make it difficult to provide the care needed for patients in a critical state. Another challenge that needs to be addressed is the medical expertise required on-site to provide rescue and emergency medical care. Medical personnel must be trained to manage unique rescue and emergency medical situations that come with working within the construction, oil, gas, exploration and mining industries.
How does an organisation mitigate these challenges? The answer lies in implementing a healthcare management system and partnering with providers with expertise in this field, such as ATA International. With over a decade of experience and a footprint in 36 African countries, ATA International understands the unique medical and emergency service needs of a Greenfield project situated in a remote location. They can assess each project’s unique risks and implement a healthcare management strategy to mitigate these. This includes the sourcing, procurement and delivery of vital medical equipment. ATA International’s long-standing relationship with Rescue SA ensures that all medical personnel are trained efficiently to tackle and rescue emergencies on-site. Having medical personnel on-site with the skills needed to provide immediate and appropriate care in medical situations ensures timely intervention, which is critical in providing life-saving treatment and an accurate diagnosis for patients to reduce complications and provide quality care.
Partnerships and Collaborations
Partnerships and collaborations with local authorities, organisations and communities are vital to the success of a medical evacuation. Local authorities and communities have valuable knowledge about the terrain, weather conditions and other potential challenges that could be faced in the area. Awareness of these challenges is vital to planning a safe evacuation route and making informed decisions. Local partners can also assist with navigating bureaucratic processes and obtaining the correct permissions to overcome the regulatory hurdles that come with medically evacuating workers in the case of an illness, injury or emergency. They can also assist with customs clearance and other essential administrative tasks.
Creating these partnerships is often challenging, especially for those unfamiliar with the country’s rules and regulations. This is why it is important to have healthcare management providers with these partnerships and who are committed to maintaining these relationships, such as ATA International and Rescue South Africa. Both businesses have extensive experience across Africa and have worked on numerous Greenfield projects where they have had to have a Medical Evacuation Response Plan (MERP) in place for medical emergencies and rescue evacuations. Both companies have worked hand in hand to conduct hundreds of successful evacuations across the continent.
Training and Preparedness
Training and preparedness of rescue and medical personnel on these project sites is critical. This is because these remote environments often have unique medical challenges, ranging from waterborne illnesses, exposure-related issues, and injuries due to hazardous working environments. Specialised training equips rescue and medical professionals with the knowledge and skills required to address and manage these issues effectively in order to reduce the risk of deaths on-site. Medical and rescue personnel also need to be proficient in using specialised equipment, which includes winches, ropes, all-terrain vehicles, defibrillators, anchor devices, and much more. Providing medical and rescue services in these areas comes with inherent risks, including the potential to exacerbate a patient’s condition during transport. Practical training will help medical and rescue personnel assess and manage these risks to make informed decisions and ultimately ensure that the patient receives the best possible care.
This is why it is essential to utilise an integrated healthcare management provider that specialises in ensuring all medical and rescue personnel on-site are trained, have the skills necessary to manage this high-risk environment and have the experience to navigate these challenges. ATA International prides itself on providing trained medical and rescue personnel for Greenfield projects. At the same time, Rescue SA ensures that all rescue personnel are qualified and have the skills required to manage the challenges mentioned above.
From the above, it is clear that Greenfield projects in remote locations have several different challenges related to medical evacuations and the skills and training required to ensure this is managed effectively. It is key to ensuring a smooth medical evacuation from these locations by partnering with a healthcare management solution provider, like ATA International, which has the experience and expertise required to help navigate these kinds of medical evacuations in Africa. What makes ATA International unique is its decade-long partnership with Rescue South Africa. Together, this partnership ensures that medical and rescue personnel on the ground are effectively trained to manage medical evacuations in the case of injuries, emergencies and illnesses. To enquire about ATA International’s healthcare management solution for Greenfield projects and the services available, visit: https://ata-international.com/contact-us/
Aidan Justus, Commercial Director, joined the ATA International Holdings team in March 2018 and has amassed 5 years of experience with the company. With a relentless drive for success, Aidan is responsible for developing and implementing strategic commercial initiatives, monitoring performance and building strong relationships with clients and stakeholders. In addition, Aidan actively supports and collaborates with senior management, leveraging his expertise and ambition to achieve organisational objectives. As a former sportsman turned ambitious businessman, Aidan Justus brings a unique blend of determination and business acumen to ATA International Holdings.