Flying solutions

The first medical air evacuation drill was carried out in Fortín de Piedra, deemed a successful exercise in terms of both timing and the sequence of events. Oscar Blanco, one of the managers masterminding proceedings, tells us how it went.

Given the latest accidents occurring in the oil production sector in the Neuquén Basin, and the busy levels of activity throughout the Vaca Muerta region, the six largest operators in the basin met to discuss the need to reinforce emergency evacuation procedures.

The consortium formed by the companies decided to hire the services of the medical air transport specialists Modena, a firm that runs a MedEvac helicopter equipped with highly complex medical gear to transfer injured parties from the most remote sites in the area to healthcare centers in the shortest possible time.

The final talk before the medivac drill.-

The training program includes quarterly drills aimed at training health site personnel, determining times and developing procedures enabling them to deploy their roles as efficiently as possible within this new evacuation protocol.

Tecpetrol offered to host the first simulation drill: Oscar Blanco, the current San Jorge Gulf Division Director, who at the time of the exercise was Health, Safety & Environment Regional Director for the Neuquén Basin, tells us how it went.

The victim is stabilized in Fortín.-

“We considered that Fortín de Piedra was the ideal site for the drill as there’s an extremely high level of activity there; also, we have heliports and a health center equipped with the latest medical technology. We invited the consortium operators and the oil unions to take part, and we filmed all the proceedings in order to make a film that can serve as training material for those involved in air evacuation exercises.”

Planned for October 13, the drill began at the scene of the accident: an operator, injured by a high-pressure hose hitting his chest while working on the fracture set, and the ensuing activation of the emergency protocol. The injured person received primary care from the health personnel stationed at the site, and was transferred in six minutes by ambulance to the CPF medical center, where he was diagnosed and stabilized.

A team focused on one single objective.-

As the victim had serious trauma to the chest, only one course of action was open to the site doctor. Once the necessary maneuvers had been performed to stabilize the patient’s vital signs, immediate air evacuation was requested.

“The helicopter left Neuquén, where it’s on duty seven days a week during daylight hours, and flew to Fortín de Piedra in thirty-seven minutes. We transferred the victim to the heliport, which lies eight hundred meters from the EPF (Early Production Facility) and loaded him into the helicopter, where he was attended by a Modena paramedic."

Oscar: monitoring the exercise minute-by-minute.-

Both Oscar and Rossmery Maturana, who is current Health, Safety & Environment Regional Sr. Manager, in addition to all those involved, are more than satisfied with the team's performance and the excellent timing achieved, since the entire operation was carried out in one hour and eleven minutes. “This evacuation protocol is yet another resource we have that enables us to quickly deal with any life-threatening situation and guarantee that the victim reaches hospital in the shortest possible time,” closes Oscar.

> 15 people participated in the drill.

> 24 observers from the local operators and the oil workers’ union.

> 37 minutes flying time for the helicopter to arrive from Neuquén.

> 5 minutes to transfer the injured person from the ambulance into the helicopter.

> 29 minutes flying time to Neuquén.

Experience at Fortín de Piedra

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