Remote medics: on the frontline of emergency care

Emergency rooms should operate like a well-oiled machine – doctors, technicians, surgeons and nurses all working in unison to handle whatever comes through the door.

But out in the field, it’s a different story entirely.

Medics in remote or dangerous locations may not have the luxury of a team of specialists ready to jump in at a moment’s notice.

In order to keep patients alive, they have to rely on their own resourcefulness, hard-won experience and ability to adapt to rapidly changing situations.

Doctor John Quinn, Tangiers International’s medical director, said: “Remote medicine requires immense flexibility, advanced emergency and medical skills and the ability to make decisions with very limited information and without the support network of a hospital.

“Anyone can put a tourniquet on a limb or stuff bandages into a stomach wound, but being able to keep that person alive, being able to give antibiotics, or provide nutrition for anywhere between three and 72 hours is a very specific challenge.

“In a hospital you would have maybe 12 people doing this. But a remote medic may be alone – and have to contend with working out of the back of an armoured truck for nine hours straight.”

As such, the skills required for the role are diverse: advanced resuscitation and respiratory techniques; the administration of medicines, IV fluids and blood; prehospital trauma life support or combat casualty care; extrication techniques, and more.

Due to their prevalence in active conflict zones, remote medics are often faced with the stark realities of war. But central to the role is an ethical commitment to preserving human life – whichever side it happens to be on.

Dr Quinn explained: “For Tangiers International, a sound ethical background and impartiality is fundamental for any medic we employ. We operate under the framework of international humanitarian law and take that responsibility very seriously.”

This ethical commitment also extends to the autonomy often experienced by field medics. Without anyone looking over their shoulder, they must still abide by strict protocols regarding patient care and ethical decision making.

“We need people who can perform at the highest ethical and professional standards whatever the circumstances,” Dr Quinn explained. “When you’re in the middle of nowhere and you have three patients on your hands, are you going to cut corners when no one’s watching?”

Tangiers International operates in some of the world’s most far-flung or dangerous locations and is well versed in the challenges of remote medicine.

The breadth of experience held by its staff and partners means it can direct medical resources where needed – and ensure those in the field are given the logistical support necessary.

Dr Quinn said: “We have a medical advisory panel which means we have doctors and military specialists around the world. These are experts or clinicians who we can tap into when we need a specialist and provide clinical oversight for team’s in the field.”

Tangiers International is currently seeking remote paramedics for deployment abroad. If you’d like to learn more about this opportunity and find out whether you are qualified, follow the link here.


Photo credit: James McCann (CC 2.0)