Bristow Americas announced on March 24 that its search-and-rescue teams have successfully transported acutely-ill offshore workers in the oil-and-gas industry with suspected cases of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). The transports were done with specially configured and equipped search-and-rescue (SAR) aircraft supporting operations in the Gulf of Mexico, Trinidad and Tobago, and Guyana.
Bristow explains the first emergency request for assistance was received on January 29, 2020. To date, Bristow has safely completed 24 requests to transport offshore workers and COVID-19 test kits to remote and isolated offshore platforms, drilling rigs and drill ships.
“In the Americas region, we have always possessed the ability to safely transport potentially infectious patients in our SAR aircraft. Though, the current response is the most comprehensive to date, consisting of a well-coordinated and aligned multiagency and multinational effort,” said Rob Phillips, senior VP for Bristow’s Americas area. “The safety, health, and welfare of our workforce, customers, and the public we support around the world is of the utmost importance to our global organization.”
Bristow explains, in terms of transporting any potentially infectious patient, it strictly adheres to universal and body substance isolation (BSI) precautions, physical barriers, and other specialty equipment within the aeromedical transport environment. The level of potential infection will trigger additional precautions, as applicable, to the patient encounter and follow-on transport.
If COVID-19 is suspected, Bristow explains additional resources and authorities are contacted to determine the best course of action. Upon tasking completion, the aircraft is completely disinfected and returned to service.
“We are currently on track to be the first commercial operator in this region to implement portable, negative pressure isolation stretchers for high-risk transports involving unconsciousness, non-ambulatory or high-risk infectious disease patients receiving invasive enroute care,” said David Jacob, Bristow’s deputy area manager for the Americas area.
Jacob continues to explain the company relies on its specially configured AW139, S-76 and S-92 helicopters and crew training to complete these complex transports. “We are ready to help and have the experience to do it the right way and can expand this service to where needed to help battle COVID-19,” he said.