From Solar Fields to Pipeline Construction and More: Mobile Treatment Centers to Create a Culture of Safety
The health and safety of employees can rely on Mobile Treatment Centers.
- By Andy Kimmel
- May 18, 2021
Providing on-site medical support to remote locations often requires medical teams to be mobile. Fixed clinics, while important, cannot provide treatment and support as projects progress, for example, solar farms, wind farms and pipeline construction. Projects like these can span tens, hundreds or thousands of miles.
Ensuring the health and safety of workers on projects like these requires the use of Mobile Treatment Centers™ (MTCs) like those from Remote Medical International. These four-wheel drive clinics allow medical providers to be positioned close to construction activities at remote, challenging project locations that are not conducive to a fixed clinic. As projects advance and the working site moves, a mobile solution allows medical teams to move easily with the project. This ensures immediate medical response for workers that keeps them on-site for treatment. Patients requiring more advanced treatment can be transferred to the care of local Emergency Medical Services (EMS) in accordance with a Medical Emergency Response Plan developed for each project location.
In addition to a treatment area and storage space, MTCs are stocked with the medical equipment and supplies including an automated external defibrillator and trauma management equipment. This allows medics to perform both routine and emergent medical care. They save a significant amount of time by prioritizing preventive care and enabling workers to receive treatment on-site 24/7 whenever possible. Additionally, they empower medical teams to take a proactive approach to overall health care, which creates safer working environments, reduces recordables and ultimately improves and saves lives.
Creating Safer Environments
First and foremost, patrolling gives on-site medics the ability to be on the right-of-way with workers every day. It gives them the opportunity to talk with the workers, give them water and electrolyte drinks, and understand their day-to-day patterns and activity. This knowledge helps medics notice when something is off about their usual day-to-day health. They can then make conversation and ask how they’re feeling. They may take workers out of the rain to dry off or put them in the shade and in the air-conditioned truck to cool off when it’s hot out. These small acts go a long way in building relationships and keeping workers happy and healthy. As a result, the medics can identify small health issues and address them before they become big problems.
In addition, safety managers can be confident that with MTCs, aide is readily available when needed to treat their workers and keep them safe. In one instance, for example, a worker injured his thumb on the job. The MTC medic quickly treated the injury, wrapped it, administered him medications and educated him on prevention. The entire process took about 20 minutes. Without the MTC, treating this small injury could have taken three hours just to transport him to a clinic.
Workers in challenging, remote locations are tough, resourceful people. Yet, in the industry, even though work is plentiful, quality jobs are still in high demand. As a result, workers may worry that if they get hurt their foreman will think they can’t handle the job. As the medics the MTC provide hydration packs and electrolyte drinks, they build trust with the workers. This trust gives them the confidence to go to the MTC when they have an issue without the fear of losing their job. As a result, in addition to minor injuries, the medics often find undiagnosed conditions like diabetes, hypertension and asthma, which, if left untreated, could lead to serious or even life-threatening situations.
Building a sense of trust that encourages workers to seek advice and treatment essentially creates a safer work environment. When workers have their asthma or blood pressure under control, they are far less likely to be injured on the job or to potentially injure someone else.
Having medics on-site every day, building relationships and trust with workers, also bolsters confidence. Employees often check their health with medics each morning before working on the project. Having this immediate access to medical care also boosts employee morale and happiness, which keeps productivity high and turnover low.
Case in Point: Diagnosing Appendicitis on a Pipeline Construction Project
When a sick 24-year-old worker didn’t show up for work the foreman notified Remote Medical International Nurse Practitioner John Meyer and Paramedic Albert Ramirez at a standard “All Personnel” Safety Meeting. Meyer and Ramirez contacted the young man’s roommates, who all rent a house together about four miles from the yard. The roommates said the worker had been in pain since Sunday afternoon, and that he “probably just ate something.” Meyer and Ramirez knew this laborer was a healthy person and that it would be unlikely for him to stay home from work because of a slight stomach ache.
When the medical team went to his house, the patient was standing upright, but holding his lower abdominal area. Ramirez and Meyer took a S.A.M.P.L.E history and checked patients Symptoms, Allergies, Medications, Past medical history, Last oral intake and the Events leading up to illness. They noticed that the young man had some fine beads of sweat on his forehead and his skin was warm. After examining his abdominal area, Meyer’s diagnosis determined that the patient had right lower quadrant rebound tenderness with guarding, meaning possible appendicitis.
Ramirez—who is fluent in Spanish—communicated with the worker and made a proper diagnosis. The medical team called the safety lead and explained the situation. The safety lead authorized the team to drive the patient to the closest emergency room where he was taken directly into a treatment bay. The patient was further evacuated to the medical center in the closest city for surgical intervention. After a successful surgery, he was released to his home. Meyer and Ramirez followed-up with the patient, checked on his condition, answered his questions and assisted him in making a follow-up appointment with the surgical practice.
Treating injuries and medical issues on-site appropriately and quickly can help avoid unnecessary and excessive off-site referrals, treatments and prescriptions. Minor injuries can be resolved on-site allowing workers to return to work more quickly. In remote environments and on projects whose locations migrate as the work progresses, Mobile Treatment Centers are the most effective and efficient way to ensure worker safety and health.