May 2020, Vol. 247, No. 5

Ramifications of COVID-19

Coronavirus Choppers Evacuate Offshore Workers

P&GJ Staff Report

Offshore aviation company Bristow Group said it has deployed specially-equipped helicopters from its Search and Rescue (SAR) fleet to transport offshore workers with suspected cases of the novel coronavirus in the North Sea and Americas regions. 

Bristow Americas’ SAR teams have successfully transported acutely-ill offshore workers in the oil and gas industry using aircraft supporting operations in the Gulf of Mexico, Trinidad and Tobago, and Guyana, the company said.

Since its first emergency request for assistance on Jan. 29, Bristow said its crews have safely completed 24 missions to transport offshore workers and COVID-19 test kits to remote and isolated offshore platforms, drilling rigs and drill ships in the Americas region. 

Bristow said it had used the newly modified helicopters in Europe to transport three offshore workers with suspected coronavirus infections in the North Sea.  UK media reported that BP confirmed at least one of those cases involved a Clair Ridge platform worker who showed symptoms.

“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 vice president for Bristow’s Americas area.

As with any potentially infectious patient, Bristow said, its teams strictly adhere to universal and body substance isolation (BSI) precautions, physical barriers, and other specialty equipment within the aeromedical transport environment. After every mission, the aircraft is completely disinfected before it is 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 en-route care,” said David Jacob, deputy area manager for the Americas area.

Bristow is closely working in conjunction with their clients, respective medical control authorities, hospitals, state health departments, federal agencies and the ministries of health, port health and other authorities and partners supporting their international rescue operations in the Western Hemisphere.

Jacob said Bristow stands ready to “expand this service where needed to help battle COVID-19.”

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