Dental care offshore – Eschmann speaks to Martin Hagues offshore medic

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  Posted by: The Probe      7th April 2019

Eschmann speaks to Martin Hagues, an offshore medic whom has been using his skills to help people working in remote locations including oilrigs and vessels stationed out at sea.

For people working in locations offshore, access to dental and medical attention is a primary concern. Environments such as construction support vessels and oilrigs can seem worlds away from the safety of dry land, and when something terrible does occur, the only people that individuals stationed at these locations can truly rely on are offshore medics.

Responsible for making sure that people are fit and able to work in these remote locations, offshore medics are the first port of call when accidents or emergencies happen, and often have to travel long distances in order to supply people with the care they need. This role covers a huge umbrella of injury types, and regardless of whether someone has broken a bone or is experiencing severe dental pain, the offshore medic will be the first to provide care.

So what does it take to become an offshore medic and what does this challenging role involve? We spoke to Martin (Marti) Hagues, offshore medic and ex-military medic for the Royal Navy who has over 32 years of experience working across a wide array of challenging locations.

“I started my career as a medic in the Royal Navy, doing my Initial Military Medic Training back in 1986. From there I rose through the ranks, honing my skills across multiple locations within the UK and abroad. In 2007, I left the Royal Navy and began working for UnitedHealthcare Global on behalf of which I have been providing care to remote locations around the globe for just over ten years.”

Of course, the role of offshore medic is a complex one, and the very nature of the job lends itself certain challenges that are all but unimaginable to those who practice dentistry or medicine from the comfort of practices or hospitals on land.

“The biggest challenge about being an offshore medic is always the weather. If there is a storm or high winds, you can easily get stranded on an oilrig or a ship for a number of days until it’s safe to take off – and when you’re stuck with patients in critical condition this can be a daunting prospect. All we can do is ensure that we give these people the best treatment possible during this time, before we can have them medevaced to land for further treatment.

“We always communicate with doctors whenever we go to a location so they can guide us as to what the best course of action is to take when we’re with the patient. This way we know that we are following treatment protocols correctly and are giving the best care possible.”

As a rule, people who want to work offshore are required to be dentally fit before taking these positions, but despite this, dental problems remain something that offshore medics have to deal with on a regular basis.

“I’d say dental problems are definitely in the top three most common problems that I see. These are usually dental abscesses, though I have had to perform extractions for patients in the past – one man even pleaded with me to remove a tooth because it was giving him so much pain! Aside from that we don’t really see many cases of dental trauma or anything like that, but it’s always a possibility. We also sometimes supply temporary fillings – these are definitely short-term measures and can fall out, but they are effective.

“Offshore medics typically only act as a first response in dental scenarios, which generally means treating the problem the best we can and then giving the patient painkillers and antibiotics if necessary until we can transport them to a dentist on the mainland. This is easier said than done if the nearest mainland is somewhere like one of the countries in Africa, as these typically do not have high standard facilities available, but we always do our best to ensure that the patient receives the care they deserve.”

The remote and unique locations covered by offshore medics also mean that aspects of effective care such as decontamination are very different from those found in an ordinary practice.

“Every location we are called out to is different, and because of this it’s impossible to create a 100% sterile environment. To tackle this, all of the equipment we use is one use only, and this gives us the chance to provide safe, rudimentary care before we can get people to a dentist for further attention.”

Although already having taken a short dentistry course as part of his early training for the Royal Navy, Marti suggests that further training in dentistry for offshore medics is a niche that needs to be filled.

“It’s impossible to find any dentistry courses, even short ones, that are catered towards teaching new skills to offshore medics. This is a shame as I would love to add to my abilities, and as we can’t treat certain problems this creates a lot more emergency patients that could arguably be treated by us if we had the skills available.”

In the end, it’s clear that offshore medics provide a service that is invaluable to people who work in isolated locations. Their ability to treat and provide care for people suffering from dental problems is really just one string on a highly diverse bow, and it is this dedication to care in the face of such extreme challenges that truly sets them apart.

 

For more information on the highly effective and affordable range of decontamination equipment and products from EschmannDirect, please visit www.eschmann.co.uk or call 01903 753322

 

Martin Hagues is an offshore medic who has experienced a diverse career working for both the Royal Navy and UnitedHealthcare Global and servicing remote locations across the globe.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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