The availability of immediate medical response services is a vital requirement for increased safety in the mining industry. Despite all the training and safety strategies, accidents still happen – and effective emergency medical response needs to ensure that further injury can be prevented and the injured receives the best possible medical treatment.
We decided to approach our Mining Safety partner ER24 to enquire about these services and gain greater insight as to how emergency medical services are provided on mining sites.
In which countries are ER24 assisting mines with emergency medical services?
Botswana / Zambia / South Africa / Mozambique / Tanzania / Democratic Republic Congo / Liberia
Is ER24 involved in the analysis and calculation process of the services required?
ER24 as well as a medical team and the site’s management are involved in the policy/agreement and assessment processes.
Are there prescribed regulatory health and safety requirements with regards to the services and number of paramedics and emergency personnel required?
In certain circumstances yes. ER24 will make recommendations based on the local law as well as South African law as our paramedics are registered with the Health Professions Council of South Africa. Each site will be different and depending on the services required, ER24 will make recommendations according to Best Practices and industry standards.
What are the special training qualifications required with regards to emergency training and experience required from emergency personnel?
After we have established the needs of the client we evaluate the facts and draft an overview of what is required. Generally we will also look at incidents most likely to occur at the site and look at the history of what type of incidents the client already faced in the past. Based on this we then source the correct staff that will be able to deal with such an emergency onsite and assist until the patient can be evacuated.
The paramedic must also be able to identify if the patient can be treated at the onsite clinic or if the patient needs to be evacuated to a specialist facility. The paramedic must also have a good knowledge and qualification in primary healthcare to deal with daily health issues faced by the staff onsite.
Depending on the site requirements paramedics can be sourced that have training and experience is medical rescue. This will usually include training to use hydraulic rescue equipment or rope access. Some of the sites are very remote and thus the paramedic must be able to establish a good relationship with the local staff and community.
Does this requirement differ between mines and the nature of the mining activities performed – ie underground, open pit mining etc?
As mentioned the previous answer, depending on the risks at the site the requirement will differ. It is of utmost importance that a risk survey is done to ensure that the correct paramedic is stationed onsite. The paramedic will need to familiarise himself with the site and their rescue or medical protocols. Safety is extremely important and it is important that we need to establish if the client has specific rescue protocols.
Does the emergency response medical services personnel operate from and are they based on the mining premises?
Most of the clients require that a paramedic is onsite fulltime as the mine operates on a 24 hour basis. We have a specialist department that is dedicated to Site Based Medical Services. Depending on the amount of paramedics required and the work load, it might possible to have more than one paramedic onsite where one will work a shift and the other is on standby. In certain cases the client requests a fire engine, rescue vehicle or ambulance.
The staff will then be adjusted to accommodate the requirements. We have a few clients that also have the community as part of their CSI and therefore the paramedics might receive an emergency call offsite in the local town or residential area. Should the paramedic have to go offsite, the standby paramedic will then cover the actual site.
How is it decided which number of emergency service personnel are required?
Each industry has its own requirements. The medical staff will depend on the type of mining or work that is being conducted onsite. Obviously with higher risk areas more than one paramedic might be dedicated to the site. The risk analysis provided by the client will also play a crucial role in the decision making of how many paramedics need to be deployed. We must also take in account that a person is only allowed to work a certain amount of hours.
This is to ensure that we comply with the law as well as to give the paramedic some rest before he is on shift again. Depending on the hours, the Site Based Medical Team will provide a shift proposal to the client. The sites will also be evaluated on a constant basis to ensure that we provide fast and efficient help with the resources provided.
Do the paramedics assist with scenario planning and developing of emergency protocols?
It is always suggested that the paramedics are involved in the health and safety of the site. They will be involved with planning of certain “what ifs” and suggest a simple and understandable protocol that could save a life during an emergency.
Is it important to include proactive steps such as safety training amongst the duties of the emergency personnel – or do they only respond to emergencies?
Generally the clients have their own safety team that inspect and recommend certain proactive measures. Our paramedics are usually involved to give a medical input. While the paramedic is onsite and ER24 stationed a mobile clinic, the paramedic will see patients under the primary healthcare section and refer to another specialist if needed.
Are there close cooperation between the Chief Medical Officer and the emergency medical response team? How important is this cooperation?
Our Site Based Medical Services Department have their own medical doctor dedicated to the planning and roll out of our stations at sites. The paramedics will have a direct line of communication to the medical doctor should there be a medical query. We also have a second doctor available through our National Emergency Contact Centre that can assist where needed. Usually the paramedic will liaise with the medical doctor when a patient needs to be referred to a specialist facility or evacuated to South Africa.
Is basic healthcare and treatment for flu and other illnesses part of duties of the emergency medical teams…?
Paramedics deployed at sites must have training and experience in primary healthcare to deal with day to day incidents or medical queries.
Does ER24 provide regular and continuous training to the medical personnel working on the mining sites?
All our paramedics are required to be part of a continuous medical training program. Most of the training is provided by the ER24 Training Academy. If we cannot provide the necessary training we will outsource it to an accredited institution. Some of the clients also require the paramedic to attend their local training sessions. ER24 encourage the paramedics to be involved in training exercises.
Are there measures in place to ensure that lessons learnt by personnel at one mine could also be shared with emergency medical services on other mines?
Every medical emergency is recorded as well as patients assessed. General emergency calls are also adequately logged for record purposes. We have a clinical review committee that oversee patient treatment and major incidents. The Site Based Medical Services medical doctor will also review incidents and cases and make recommendations if required.
Where do the duties of the ER24 emergency response personnel start and when does it stop – does this continue once an injured miner is admitted to hospital?
The paramedic will be informed of an emergency and respond to the patient or incident. The medical assessment will be done on scene and it will be evaluated if other resources are required. Should the patient be identified to go through to the mine or site clinic, the paramedic will accompany him/her and complete treatment on the site. If the ER24 site has an ambulance as per the requirements the patient will be transported to the closest appropriate facility should specialist care be needed offsite.
In certain cases where only a paramedic is on site and not an ambulance, the paramedic will activate a local approved service provider to collect the patient from the onsite clinic or location. The service provider paramedics will then receive the patient in a formal documented handover from the ER24 paramedic. The ER24 paramedic can also accompany the patient in the ambulance should the need arise.
Could you provide a summary of services provided?
ER24 successfully manages contracts within the mining industry for Site Based Medical Services on behalf of their clients throughout Africa.
This product and service is best described as follows:
- The provision of Emergency Medical Services and support to a variety of clients in “high risk” or “high risk remote” locations. These services cover all client operations in tandem with the various stages of their project lifecycles.
- Ensuring the Health & Safety of a National workforce and expatriate population.
- Providing a Medical Assistance Infrastructure to mitigate “on-site” risk, and minimize Health & Safety impacts ensuring the continuity of client business and productivity in the event of medical emergency incidents.
- The supply of “on-site” clinics, Medical Emergency Services, medical staffing, medical procurement, medical assistance training via our market leading ER24 Training Academy, risk impact assessments, Emergency Response & Evacuation plans, Aero-Evacuations and 24 hour Contact Centre Medical Assistance Services.
What do a mining company have to do should they which to benefit from the expertise by ER24?
A mining company can contact our Site Based Medical Services department on email@example.com
or contact +27 11 803 7707 and consult with Walter Egger.
In case of an emergency in South Africa, anyone can contact ER24 on 084 124.
For emergency evacuations from abroad, you can contact the ER24 Flight Services on +27 10 205 3052