AescuLink for offshore wind – safe in case of emergency
The German North and Baltic Seas are an important location for the generation of renewable energy through offshore wind farms. To protect personnel in these harsh environments, reliable emergency telemedicine coverage is paramount. AescuLink, our state-of-the-art telemedicine solution, meets all regulatory requirements and provides a fast and effective response to medical emergencies.
In the German exclusive economic zone EEZ, AescuLink has been in operation for the offshore wind industry since 2015 with over 500 remote treatments and thousands of exercises or radio tests. The adjacent picture shows the application area of AescuLink.
Conditions are difficult
The German offshore wind industry is a high-tech industry, but it is also associated with tough working conditions. Workers at offshore wind farms often have to work in extreme weather conditions, such as strong winds, high waves and poor visibility. This makes rescue in the event of an emergency much more difficult.
In the event of a medical emergency on an offshore wind farm, fast and safe rescue is critical. Unfortunately, rescue by rescue helicopters and sea rescue cruisers is often limited due to difficult weather conditions and distance from the mainland. Also, the deployment time of rescue resources is often affected by weather conditions and may be delayed or prove impossible.
The DGUV (German Social Accident Insurance) already pointed out in 2016 that working in the offshore wind industry entails certain risks and provided recommendations for assessing the risks and implementing protective measures in an information document (number 2016-041). This paper recommended the implementation of telemedicine in the event of a medical emergency in almost all of the operational scenarios considered. This recommendation was reemphasized in 2021 Information Memorandum 202-041.
The “Concept for the immediate rescue and medical care of employees in the offshore wind industry” of the state occupational health and safety authorities of Schleswig-Holstein and Lower Saxony further concretizes these requirements and exclusively uses the term “telemedicine” instead of “teleconsultation”, which is understood as an increase in quality compared to pure consultation.
For the operating license, the telemedicine solution must, among other things.
- fulfill the regulatory requirements for manufacturing and “placing on the market” according to German laws/regulations or corresponding European regulations (MDR, transitionally MDD).
- Be approved for remote treatment of medical emergencies (Class IIb or higher).
- be operated in accordance with MPBetreibV.
The provider must meet the following requirements, among others:
- Telemedicine after no more than 3 minutes with first responder offshore
- bidirectional audio-video communication and text chat
- Acquisition and transmission of: 12-lead ECG with heart rate, oxygen saturation, pulse and plethysmogram, non-invasive blood pressure, temperature.
- Capture and transmit high-resolution still images with low delay.
- The delay caused by the telemedicine technology should not exceed 2 seconds.
GHC offers standard systems that fully meet the above requirements for telediagnostics. Requirements going beyond this, e.g. for therapy purposes involving an emergency paramedic, are made possible by adding further functions to the medical technology:
- Invasive blood pressure measurement
- Capnography (CO2)
- Manual defibrillator (sync/async)
- Transcutaneous pacemaker
The configuration of the computer hardware allows semi-mobile or fully mobile operation of the system (see below). Furthermore, RescueLink can be used with the “TeleVisite” function for broad application in the overall wind farm.
The adjacent picture shows the sample of an AescuLink system for semi-mobile use (1) and an AescuLink system for extended use (2).
(1) AescuLink on SurfaceGo 3 with Schiller Physiogard
(2) AescuLink on SurfaceGo 3 with Schiller Defigard
Full mobile use
In fully mobile use, the tablet is replaced by a smartphone. The AescuLink smartphone offers the important functions of the AescuLink for semi-mobile use. It connects to the medical device, captures their data and transmits it to the tele-physician.
In RescueLink deployment, the tablet is replaced by a smartphone. The RescueLink smartphone provides the important basic functions of the AescuLink for mobile use. It establishes an audio-video connection with the tele-physician, allowing initial clarification of the case even before the arrival of an emergency paramedic (33 minute time limit). RescueLink can be used by wind farm staff on their duty phones (bodycam).
Fast and competent help
In an emergency, the tele-doctor of GHC partner Unfallkrankenhaus Berlin will help. The emergency call is usually answered immediately, at the latest in 2 minutes. The time limit of 3 minutes specified by the labor authorities can thus be met in any case.