Medical Emergency Evacuation
What constitutes 'remote' in this context needs to be decided through risk assessment, but will typically include situations where we foresee it taking more than a few hours to get a casualty to a suitable medical facility.
What Can Go Wrong?
Anything which causes delay to the casualty receiving appropriate medical care, including:
- Planning failures (e.g. unidentified or impractical evacuation options).
- Communication failures (e.g. equipment or battery failure, poor reception).
- Casualty extraction / handling problems (e.g. lack of stretcher, lack of carriers).
- Transport failures (e.g. breakdowns, unavailability, night / weather restrictions).
- Inappropriate medical facilities (e.g. lack of qualified medical staff, lack of suitable medications or treatment equipment).
- There are no specific legal requirements to draw to your attention; you must apply the control measures that are relevant to your medevac plan / risk assessment.
Planning the shoot
- If travelling overseas into a hostile or remote location, contact our Emergency Medical Assistance Provider (EMAP) to obtain a pre-deployment report (PDR) (see Recommended Links). Allow at least 72hrs for its preparation; the longer the notice period, the better. The PDR will identify the nearest suitable medical facilities to your location and availability / suitability of local emergency responders. Our EMAP provide a 24/7 helpline number which can be used for any medical situation, not just emergencies. PDR's can be obtained for any country, but there is a charge if you are neither remote, nor in a designated hostile location.
- If there aren't suitable state-funded emergency responders, you will either need to plan for transporting an injured or ill person yourselves, or identify a suitable emergency transport provider. If the latter, obtain (and check) their contact details, their likely response times and any limitations in their service (e.g. can they come at night, during local holidays, do they need pre-stocked fuel dumps, etc.?). It may be necessary to have more than one transport option. If you can, agree with them suitable pick-up points ahead of your shoot, marked on duplicated maps and with GPS (lat/long) co-ordinates.
- Given your crew size / age / health, the nature of the risks on location and your remoteness, assess the first aid capabilities required. Remember, whoever is to be your first aider, they need to be confident treating and monitoring a seriously ill or injured casualty for a prolonged period; in some cases, a specialist medic or paramedic may be appropriate (if in doubt, speak with your Safety Adviser).
- If there are transport limitations on location, be prepared to extract / carry your casualty, for example, to a helicopter landing site (HLS) or road. Do you have a stretcher and sufficient people to perform the carry?
- Ensure you will have reliable means of communication within teams on location and to the outside world, including a back-up (and spare batteries), and ensure crew know how to use it.
- Ensure you will be able to pinpoint your exact location (with GPS or map/compass) and crew know how to use them – GPS co-ordinates can be pre-determined using various websites (see Recommended Links)
- If very remote, consider taking a personal locator beacon (PLB) or emergency position-indicating radio beacon (EPRIB). Ensure you know how to use it and that you register it with the UK EPIRB registry before you go (see below).
- Obtain next of kin details for all crew / contributors; this information is confidential and should not be distributed outside of your team.
- If needed contact your safety advisor to help you develop / review your plan.
- Record your medevac arrangements within your programme risk assessment form (if straightforward) or on a BBC Medevac form (if complex) with copies held by the production office. See Useful Documents (r/h margin) for BBC templates and checklists.
- Consider the need for laminated ‘emergency cards’ giving key contact info, pick-up locations, etc. See Useful Documents for an example template.
- If using EPIRB registry – before you go, you must contact the “UK 406MHz Distress & Security Beacon Registry” to register your trip – they will send you a form to complete. Registry contact details: Tel. +44 (0)1326 211569; Email (mailto:email@example.com)
Division Specific Issues
- The BBC Safety High Risk Team have a number of small tracking devices (like a PLB but with text / email capabilities) available for use by Newsgathering when in remote or dangerous locations.
FAQs/Did You Know?
- Dealing with emergencies can be traumatic. The Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) and TRiM network are there to provide emotional support to employees who have had to deal with traumatic events (see Recommended Links (Gateway)). Whilst the EAP is an employee benefit, it can be made available to freelancers under certain circumstances (contact HR for advice).
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