THE SOUTH East Asia Australia Offshore and Onshore Conference (SEAAOC) formed the perfect backdrop for the Inpex-operated Ichthys LNG project to officially award a six-year, $45 million aeromedical support contract to CareFlight.

The contract will see an additional aeromedical jet based in the Northern Territory, which will operate independently of CareFlight’s Top End Aeromedical Service to the Northern Territory Government.

In addition, 20 new clinical positions for doctors and f light nurses will be created in Northern Australia.

Inpex HSE general manager Henk Feyen said the project had committed to sourcing dedicated aeromedical capability during the offshore construction and commissioning phases of the project to avoid drawing on government resources.

“These periods are when we will have the most offshore workers and we want to ensure they have the best care if faced with a serious medical situation,” he said.

“We also want to limit potential impact on Northern Territory emergency services should MEDEVAC operations be required for the project.”

In what is thought to be a world first, CareFlight and Aeronautical Engineers Australia have developed a fully inter-operable stretcher system for the Ichthys LNG project.

Speaking at the official contract award at SEAAOC in Darwin, the home of the Ichthys project, Inpex Darwin general manager Sean Kildare said the contract represented modern day, 21st century medical support services.

“The contract features asset enhancements such as the new aero medical jet based in Darwin and cutting-edge technology,” he said.

“These are arrangements we hope never to use, but in the unfortunate unlikely event that they are required we are going have the best available medical support for anybody that needs it.”

The contract award comes as offshore activities at the Ichthys project ramp up, with the pipe lay underway and general construction of the offshore infrastructure in an advance stage.

“These kinds of support services are an absolute must have and we’ve ensured that the services we’ve got are the best available anywhere in the world,” Mr Kildare said.

CareFlight, a charitable organisation, which has been involved in the aero medicine space since the mid-80s, thanked the Ichthys LNG project for supporting the development of medical and aviation infrastructure in Northern Australia.

CareFlight general manager Paul Smith told Oil & Gas Australia that it would be providing doctors, nurses and paramedics under the contract.

“We can retrieve someone from anywhere at any one of Inpex’s sites and do that in a very timely fashion,” he said.

Mr Smith said the equipment provided was exactly what you would find in an intensive care unit.

“The philosophy here is that we’re taking the intensive care to the patient,” he said.

“When our teams arrive on site, the patient is getting the same treatment, same medication and same management that you would get in an IC unit but you are getting it 300 miles off the coast.

“In conjunction with Inpex, we’ve raised the bar in terms of providing quality medical services offshore.”

Proceeds from the contract will help CareFlight continue to expand its aeromedical and support services across Northern Australia.