Offshore Emergencies: 4 Reasons Wind Farms are Developing Response Teams

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The dynamic nature of the extreme and hazardous environmental conditions that can occur offshore demand respect. It is necessary to adopt a precautionary approach when it comes to protecting lives on offshore wind farms.

Europe is the leader in offshore wind energy, with the first offshore wind farm being installed in Denmark in 1991. As of 2010, there are 39 offshore wind farms in waters off Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and the United Kingdom.

A lot of learning has occurred since the introduction of that first offshore wind farm in 1991. Many companies have identified the area of offshore emergency response as one in which significant improvements could be made. To begin addressing the perceived issues in the field, ERT(Emergency Response Team) services have become an integral part of operations on off shore wind farms. Wind farms face unique challenges that these response teams work hard at resolving;

Golden Hour

In emergency medicine, the golden hour refers to a time period lasting for one hour following traumatic injury being sustained by a casualty , during which there is the highest likelihood that prompt medical treatment will prevent death. It is well established that the patient's chances of survival from an incident are greatest if they receive care within a short period of time after a severe injury. An ERT ensures rapid emergency response and are highly mobile on the wind farm site delivering life saving care within that Golden Hour.

Access

Wind farms, by their nature, create a multitude of difficulties for access. Employees will hold a number of qualifications in rope access to conduct operations such as painting, tower cleaning, blade cleaning, blade inspection and repair, platform maintenance and bolt tensioning. Equally, ERTs will need specialist rope rescue and confined space skills. Rope rescue is a subset of technical rescue that involves the use of static nylon kernmantle ropes, anchoring and belaying devices, friction rappel devices and other specialized equipment to reach victims and safely recover them.

Weather Conditions

These responders have to be self-contained due to the challenges of being off shore. Offshore wind farms previously would have had limited access to aid in emergency situations when they encounter severe weather conditions. Severe weather has the potential to cause damage, serious social disruption, or loss of human life. Types of severe weather phenomena vary, depending on the latitude, altitude, topography, and atmospheric conditions. Off shore, severe weather can create high winds, hail, excessive precipitation and sea swell.

Staff Training

An important role of these emergency response teams has been their involvement in delivering on-site training to other employees, sharing skills and knowledge that has the potential to save lives in an emergency as part of their daily routine of operations and maintenance on site.

We're always interested in anything that helps in improving your capabilities. Being able to track your response team's development is one of the reasons [D4H]™ technologies was created.

Robert Charles [D4H] Technologies

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