Why Employ Paramedics at Remote Worksites?

Employing paramedics on remote worksites means more efficient medical attention and fewer lost-time incidents.

 

Occupational safety is of paramount importance in our offices, warehouses, camps and worksites; safe working conditions promote job satisfaction while keeping workers on the job.

The people commonly assigned to deliver care are occupational first-aid attendants Level III (OFAIII) who respond to medical emergencies on site. While having an OFAIII on site is the minimum standard, organizations serious about the safety of their workers can go above and beyond – as evidenced by the recent trend of placing experienced primary care paramedics (PCPs) and advanced care paramedics (ACPs) on site.

Current WorkSafeBC regulations require high-risk worksites more than 20 minutes away from a hospital to be supported by an OFAIII with access to a first-aid room and transport vehicle. An OFAIII will perform to his or her scope of practice, but often an ill or injured patient will be referred elsewhere because the OFAIII does not have the training or authority to treat the patient beyond a basic level. When there is a life-threatening emergency, this is clearly necessary. However, when the injury is minor but nevertheless untreatable by the OFAIII, a productivity issue arises for employers, as the worker may not be able to return to work promptly, resulting in a lost-workday incident.

Professionals providing medical care come with a variety of backgrounds and not all “medics” are created equal. The differences in the education and scope of an OFAIII, PCP and ACP are significant and clearly defined (see chart). Beyond the classroom, paramedics gain much of their experience working for an ambulance service and attending a wide spectrum of medical emergencies. These interactions provide them with practical experience to identify and treat cases they might find on the worksite.

Under the supervision of a physician medical director, PCPs and ACPs can perform to the full scope of their license. A PCP can administer medications to ease the symptoms of common illnesses like asthma and diabetes. These interventions could save a time-consuming and costly transport out of camp. Likewise, an ACP has an even greater scope of care that extends to the use of narcotics for pain management and the ability to provide cardiac monitoring and airway management in the event of a life- threatening emergency.

Remote WorksitesParamedics have the necessary skills to provide higher-level interventions before referring a patient to the hospital. In ongoing health and safety management, reducing lost-time injuries and major incidents is important to everyone.

An efficient way to incorporate paramedics into the care model of remote work sites is through a “hub and spoke” response system. The highest-trained responder (i.e., an ACP) is stationed at the main camp/medical clinic, and is supported by a combination of PCPs and OFAIIIs strategically placed throughout the worksite to provide the appropriate level of care. Patients are treated on site and turned over to the ACP as required. With such a system, the employer benefits from a high-value safety program while patients receive timely and appropriate care.

Employers looking to attract and retain top workers should consider expanding their health and safety program to include experienced ACPs and PCPs supported by a physician medical director. By raising the minimum standard of care, employers can take comfort in knowing their employees and contractors will receive the right care at the right time.

By Thomas Puddicombe

Director, Business Operations, Iridia Medical

 

Article originally published in the Summer 2014 issue of Mineral Exploration

West Africa Ebola Outbreak – Update

Ebola Outbreak

August 18, 2014 – Ebola Update

2014 West Africa Ebola virus disease (EVD) outbreak

Introduction

In the past, Iridia has provided updates on the development of emerging viral infections around the world. In particular, we relayed updates to our client audience about developments surrounding:

  • 2013 outbreak of the A(H7N9) Avian Influenza Virus in China
  • MERS Coronavirus, or ‘Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus’

Iridia tracks these developments as they are relevant to a number of our key stakeholders including the following:

  • Fire Rescue Departments – these individuals can be exposed on the front lines to emerging infectious threats, so we attempt to provide current advice on patient care protocols as well as recommendations with respect to limiting occupational exposure.
  • Remote Medical Programs – our paramedics and physicians work in remote camp environments.  These camps are at high-risk for infectious outbreaks; therefore, we need to prepare should these outbreaks spread to Canada.
  • Critical Infrastructure Preparedness Programs – in the past, we’ve been very involved in developing response plans for the health, banking, transportation, and oil and gas sectors with respect to new influenza strains, including the recent H1N1 outbreak. 

For these reasons, we’d like to keep our stakeholders abreast of the recent West Africa Ebola outbreak (learn more about Ebola) so we are all well informed and prepared to act should the virus propagate further.

Current Ebola Outbreak

The outbreak began in Guinea in December 2013. However, it was not detected until March 2014, after it spread to Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Nigeria. It is the most severe outbreak of Ebola in terms of the number of human cases and fatalities since the discovery of the virus in 1976.

As of August 2014, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported a total of 2,127 suspected cases and 1,145 deaths. On 8 August, it formally designated the outbreak as a public health emergency of international concern. Various aid organizations and international bodies, including the CDC, and the European Commission have mobilised personnel and funds to help counter the outbreak.

Key Alerts, Aug 8 – 18

  • August 8 – WHO announces a cumulative total of 1779 suspect and confirmed cases – View here.
  • August 8 – WHO declares the outbreak a public health emergency of international concern – View here.
  • August 13 – WHO announces a cumulative total of 1975 suspect and confirmed cases – View here.
  • August 15 –  Between 12 and 13 August 2014, a total of 152 new cases of Ebola virus disease as well as 76 deaths reported – View here.

ebola outbreak history

Risks and Recommendations

The position of the WHO is that the risk of transmission of Ebola virus disease during air travel remains low. “Unlike infections such as influenza or tuberculosis, Ebola is not airborne,” says Dr. Nuttall, Director of WHO Global Capacity Alert and Response. “It can only be transmitted by direct contact with the body fluids of a person who is sick with the disease.”

Additionally, the Public Health Agency of Canada recommends:

“That Canadians avoid all non-essential travel to Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone due to the ongoing Ebola virus outbreak. This recommendation is made to protect Canadian travellers and make it easier for health officials in these countries to dedicate their resources towards controlling the outbreak. The risk of infection is low for most travellers, however the risk may increase for those who are work in a health care setting.”

Statistics

  • Total confirmed cases: 2,127
  • Total fatalities: 1,145
  • Countries with infection – Guinea, Nigeria, Liberia, Sierra Leone

Additional Information

Thank you for checking our Ebola outbreak summary, please check back for future updates. For more information, please visit http://www.who.int