"Topside support requires 24/7 dedication under the harshest of conditions." Dr. Stuart Scott, Clinical Director, Offshore Occupational Health, Iqarus.


Operations in the oil and gas industry are characterised by shift workers functioning for long hours under harsh conditions.

This often leads to on-site accidents that require immediate medical intervention.

Tragically, a gentleman working during the night, on a normally unmanned installation, fell from the deck into the sea.

With the help of the on-site rescue teams he was recovered from the sea and taken to the support vessel for medical care.


  • The gentleman had to be recovered from the extremely cold and dangerous water within minutes by the Emergency Response and Rescue Vessel and taken to the Iqarus medic on the walk-to-work vessel.
  • Although he had only been in the North Sea for a short time, the extreme environment caused his core temperature to drop significantly in a short span of time.

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  • Presenting with an apparent catastrophic injury, it became a race against time for all the emergency teams involved to offer the required support.

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  • The Iqarus on-site medic started immediate hypothermic resuscitation on the patient in the medical suite on the vessel as per protocol.
  • The medic arranged for the topside doctor to be contacted, who then arranged for a coastguard helicopter (SARH) to attend to the emergency call from the off-shore vessel.
  • Following ongoing resuscitation and full assessment of the casualty, the medic further consulted with the topside doctor.
  • Due to the nature of the injury the topside doctor consulted with our Medical Director and the on-call consultant for Accident & Emergency at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary. At that point it was agreed that further attempts at resuscitation were, unfortunately, not appropriate.
  • The SARH arrived and the deceased was transported back to the beach. The vessel with the rest of the crew returned to Aberdeen.


  • Following liaison with the operating company, the contractor companies and Scotland Police, we arranged for a trained trauma counsellor to go onto the vessel to assess the marine crew.
  • We also arranged for a doctor and further trauma-trained counsellors to be at the reception centre to assess all other employees. Follow-up was arranged with all employees including appointments where necessary.

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  • We held a significant event analysis meeting with the operating company for all those involved in the treatment and decision-making during this event, facilitated by a doctor using a ‘human factors approach’.
  • This endorsed the process that had been followed and the decision-making followed during this tragic incident.