Survitec, a leading specialist in maritime safety, stresses the need to ensure that there is sufficient medical oxygen on board ships in the event of respiratory infection of crews and passengers.
While the IMDG code and MFAG guidelines require operators to carry 44 liters of medical oxygen at a minimum of 200 bar, Survitec recommends increasing current supplies to ensure sufficient availability on board if crews contract Covid-19 or any other respiratory infection.
“The current minimum may not be sufficient in the event of a new outbreak,” said Jan-Oskar Lid, technical director of global sales – Fire, rescue and security, Survitec.
“Most ships will carry one 40-liter bottle and two smaller 2-liter bottles. A 40 liter cylinder operating at 200 bar with a maximum flow rate of 25 liters per minute will last around 5.3 hours, but this is unlikely to be enough to treat more than one Covid-19 patient if a medical evacuation is not not possible or if the bottles cannot. be replaced quickly, ”he said.
A healthy adult needs around 7 liters of oxygen per minute, but Covid-19 can deplete them to dangerous levels. Depending on the severity of the infection, a single Covid-19 patient would need 2 to 15 liters of oxygen per minute. Under exceptional circumstances, stage 4 oxygen escalation therapy required 60 liters per minute.
“Although the number of cylinders stored on board depends on a series of factors such as the number of crew / passengers, the type of cargo carried and the area of navigation / operation, it is clear that the current minimum is not will not be sufficient to treat several people infected with the virus. We therefore recommend that operators and owners of naval / offshore installations increase the number of cylinders they currently have on board.
According to the Maritime Labor Convention 2006 (MLC, 2006), adopted by the International Labor Organization (ILO), a seafarer, when working on board, has the right to health protection and to similar medical care. as possible to those with shore workers. This includes quick access to medicines, medical equipment and facilities needed for diagnosis and treatment, as well as medical information and expertise.
“This is why medical oxygen is a registered medicine which is exactly the same as medical gaseous oxygen supplied to hospitals and other medical facilities on land. Medical oxygen is considered a prescription drug and is part of the medical equipment on board a ship, ”said Lid.
To support its customers, Survitec has partnered with Lagaay International, based in the Netherlands, to defend its MedOx medical oxygen cylinders compliant with ISO 9809-1: 2019.
Joris Alberda, Managing Director of Lagaay International, said: “Survitec supplies a range of ancillary medical equipment to the global maritime industry, including oxygen delivery systems and resuscitators, all compatible with our MedOx cylinders. We will now work with Survitec to ensure that the marine industry‘s demand for medical oxygen can be met. “
Lid added: “The MedOx bottles supplied by Lagaay are filled to 200 bars, the pressure recommended by the IMO. Other regions of the world have different maximum fill pressures. In the United States it’s 150 bars and in some Asian countries it’s 128 bars.
Survitec has three MedOx administration systems to meet IMDG / FMAG rules designated “Bedside”, “Outside” and “Norwegian”. Most flag states approve of the “bedside” solution, the most common method.
This requires that the entire unit be installed in the ship’s hospital with the oxygen cylinder placed between two beds, mounted against the bulkhead. A fixed regulator is placed directly on the bottle. The oxygen flow is regulated via the flowmeter on the bulkhead.
If the vessel has a Norwegian or Isle of Man flag, the “Norwegian” method is required. This is similar to the Bedside solution, however, a high pressure hose connects the cylinder to the regulator on the bulkhead. The regulator is equipped with a safety valve, so if there is a leak inside the regulator, the oxygen will be vented to the open air.
The “Exterior” solution is intended for all vessels operating under the Dutch flag or for those who need to place their medical oxygen cylinders outside the accommodation. The MedOx is introduced into the hospital area of the ship via pipelines.
“It’s important to remember that different regions set their own standards,” Lid said. “There are many types of valve outlet fittings available. However, for medical gases, we strongly recommend the use of the Pin Index Safety System valve.
“This is the type used on Lagaay MedOx bottles and it is the valve closest to an international standard. It is specially designed for medical oxygen and ensures that the right gas is filled in the right cylinder. This also ensures that the cylinder will only connect to the correct medical equipment.
“Valve outlet connection standards should be universal rather than national, as this will help ensure the safety and integrity of the product. “