Remote Location Working

Date: 28.10.2016     Last updated: 05.12.2017 at 14.41
A guide to working in remote locations in the UK and abroad. This generally means working in an area with challenging conditions while being a considerable time and distance from help.

Getting to and from this area and the activities you plan will all have a significant impact on your planning, team size, resources needed and emergency response arrangements.

Read the Emergency Medical Evacuation (Medevac) guide when planning for remote locations.

What Can Go Wrong?

  • Getting Lost – Inexperienced crew with poor map reading skills. Unfamiliar locations.
  • Mechanical breakdown- Long wait for emergency assistance, vehicles being unsuitable for the terrain or in poor condition. Vehicles may form a key part of any medical evacuation plan.
  • Inclement weather/exposure- Crew can be exposed to extremes of weather, making navigation or working difficult or unsafe and result in the crew being stranded until conditions improve.
  • Injury/illness-  Plan to deal effectively injuries sustained, or illness in the remote area.
  • Fatigue- Weather, terrain and length of time working will affect fatigue. The amount of production kit you need, including the kit you need to stay sustained with food and liquids and shelter, will significantly increase the weight/bulk you have to carry.
  • Communication failure. – Equipment or battery failure, poor reception.
  • Wild animals – In certain locations especially abroad, remote locations may have dangerous wild animals.
  • Unfamiliar terrain – May include jungle, mountains, rivers, woodland, fields.

Legal/BBC Requirements

  • BBC Editorial Guidelines.

Control Measures

General Controls

  • Ensure your team have navigation skills and ability to plan a route; and have access to local knowledge appropriate to the level of risk the location and activity poses. Where possible, organise someone familiar with the area to accompany you. Avoid working alone. Leave your route plan details and establish a call in procedure with base. Have an emergency response plan, should the call in to base fail to materialise.
  • Where practicable, use suitable navigational equipment such as GPS, satellite navigation systems and maps and ensure personnel have been trained in their use and can navigate under challenging conditions
  • Source vehicles from known suppliers and be specific when booking about what they are needed for. Be specific about the volume and weight of the equipment you will need to carry in the vehicle along with the number of passengers. If sourcing abroad use a reputable fixer to do this. Check the vehicle upon delivery, brakes, lights, tyres, fluid levels. Check spare tyre, jack and wheel brace. Know how to use them before you go. If your vehicles play a key part in any evacuation plan where emergency help is limited consider taking two vehicles and ensure that the type of vehicle selected could carry an immobilised casualty. Ensure you have access to fuel. Obtain 4x4 driver training if the terrain is to be extreme.
  • Ensure clothing and footwear is suitable for the conditions and time of year. Plan for a worst case scenario of how long you may be stranded in a location and take food, clothing and emergency shelter to deal with this. Study the weather forecasts leading up to deployment and any historical weather information you can. Decide early in the planning what conditions are acceptable.
  • Through your risk assessment decide what injuries are foreseeable on the trip and ensure you have the first aid/medical competency and equipment to be the initial point of treatment. Through your emergency medical evacuation plan then decide how long you will have to sustain that care and if you would have to move a casualty. This will determine if a first aider or medic is most appropriate.
  • Ensure your team are fit enough for the task. You are only as strong as your weakest crew member. If you need to physically carry your production and personal kit then train for it leading up to deployment - as a rule of thumb 1/3 of your body weight is an upper limit. Ensure that filming schedules are realistic. Review the whole schedule before deployment and map it against the agreed conditions of service. Where you cannot meet these requirements ensure your risk assessment has considered it and get senior manager approval before deploying.
  • Depending on how remote your location is you should have multiple means of communication to compensate for any failure. Examples are satellite phone, mobile phone, vhf radio, emergency response beacon. You should discuss the scenario’s where each element of your communication plan may fail and have a plan to compensate for that. Carry additional batteries and keep communication kit protected from the elements. Delegate the task of checking communication kit to a team member daily.
  • Ensure you have all contact numbers needed such as mountain rescue, coastguards, local police, team members, base location, office etc. Pre-programme these numbers into phone or laminate small call cards.
  • If dangerous wild animals are known to in the area, seek specialist advice with regards to appropriate control measures.
  • Ensure personnel are suitably experienced, physically able and where required, qualified, with terrain and environment likely, such as mountains; have correct suitably maintained equipment clothing and kit including PPE.

Division Specific Issues

  • For some remote working, sign off may be needed by a senior manager from your division.

FAQs/Did You Know?

  • The 60 minutes after a traumatic injury is sometimes referred to as the golden hour, a window of time in which a victim is thought to have the greatest chance of survival if given medical attention. Remember this when planning your production and emergency arrangements.

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