The medical challenges of offshore operations

By Matthew Lane, Tech IIMS AFNI AVI
Owner & Master, Ventus Workboats Ltd.

As offshore construction and maintenance projects move further out to sea, crew and personnel transfer times lengthen. This not only presents a requirement for innovative transfer vessels, but also the need for medical care to be available in situ in the event of an emergency. Additionally, Service Operations Vessels (SOVs) fitted with Walk-to-Work (W2W) systems now play an important role in the construction as well as O&M phases of offshore projects, meaning that larger numbers of shift-based operations personnel and crew are on site and away from immediate medical care for two to three weeks at a time.

The term ‘golden hour’ or ‘golden time’ in the medical sector refers to the period of time following a traumatic injury during which there is the highest likelihood that prompt medical treatment will prevent death. With offshore sites now being far enough from shore to be outside this ‘golden hour’ for evacuation to shore-side medical facilities, having trained medics on site could literally save lives in the event of a casualty incident. In Northern Europe particularly weather conditions can also hamper or delay evacuation by crew transfer vessel (CTV) or helicopter.

In the event of an incident, experienced on site medics can provide an immediate, professional, medical emergency response and have administrable drugs and trauma equipment available to treat casualties at the incident site. In addition to emergency response, these teams are now also being deployed to run daily Fresh Case Clinics for offshore personnel and vessel crew. Having this service available at sea often serves to resolve medical issues at an early stage, before they impact loss time statistics and/or the patient’s condition merits medical evacuation.

Medic teams also frequently take responsibility for on board hygiene campaigns, minimising the risk of losing personnel availability to, for example, gastroenteritis-type illnesses. In addition they can provide comprehensive, accurate and timely medical reporting.

In March this year Ventus Workboats was awarded a contract for medical cover on board a Service Operations Vessel (SOV) based on a German offshore project. As part of the agreement Ventus is providing two offshore medics for technicians and staff. These medics run Fresh Case Clinics daily as well as providing Pre-Hospital Trauma Life Support (PHTLS) whenever needed, bridging the gap between incident and shore facilities.

The majority of Ventus’ medics are ex-armed forces and therefore focussed and calm even in the most pressing of situations. The medics on this project are on 24-hour standby for medical cover and emergency rescue. This is the second major offshore project that Ventus has supported with medical cover in the space of a year.

For more information visit Ventus Workboats’ website:

About Ventus Workboats’ Offshore Medical Services

Ventus Workboats can provide HSE offshore medics, fully-licensed paramedics and doctors for offshore industry and marine projects. All Ventus medics are Global Wind Organisation (GWO) trained and can be absorbed into tower teams as technicians where required. They can also double up as offshore project support and administrative staff and provide medical training and refreshers to technicians and crew during scheduled slots or periods of downtime.

The Industry Contribution is a section in which the offshore wind industry companies share their project endeavours or analyses. Please contact us at [email protected] for inquiries.