Scheme will see paramedics work on wind farms off Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth
- Credit: Duncan Higham.
A lifesaving scheme which would see paramedics double as offshore technicians to help lower response times in emergencies will be coming to wind farms off the East Anglian coast.
Experienced life-savers are being trained for operational duties on remote turbines so they can carry out a combined maintenance and medical role.
The concept will be brought to the emerging wind farm hub in East Anglia by SSI Energy with the help of a £50,000 grant from the SCORE (Supply Chain innovation for Offshore Renewable Energy) scheme.
Under the venture, fully-equipped technician paramedics will be able to tackle medical emergencies such as strokes, heart and asthma attacks and anaphylactic shock, as well as the full range of traumatic emergencies including falls from height.
While oil and gas rigs have required medics for more than 30 years, currently the only cover on wind farms is provided by fellow technicians who are required to undergo a two-day first aid course.
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With offshore renewable plants moving further from land the need for medical knowledge is increasing.
Earlier this year, SSI medic technician Peter Lane saved a colleague who suffered a heart attack at a wind turbine training centre in Ireland and managed to stabilise him so he could be moved to hospital. SSI managing director Duncan Higham said the incident was the perfect example of the difference between life and death that technician medics could have on offshore, and onshore, wind farms.
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Mr Higham said: 'Wind farms are pretty safe but if someone gets hurt or taken ill it could be a long wait for a helicopter or lifeboat.
'If the casualty had been up an 80m turbine offshore, with only a first aider on hand, he would have been unlikely to survive.'
Mr Higham added: 'The usual concept is to have first aiders, or a medic sitting around waiting for something to happen. We are trying to add value and we know there is a demand in the industry.'
The grant is helping the company to employ a business development manager, Jonathan Walker. He will look to serve the southern North Sea offshore wind industry through an office based at either Great Yarmouth or Lowestoft.