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Major miners BHP and Rio Tinto have collaborated to create the Helicopter Emergency Medical Services (HEMS) program.

The program was originated by BHP, and it aims to offer quick emergency medical response through the Pilbara region in Western Australia, a large and remote area in which both miners operate.

As part of the HEMS program, a twin-engine BK117 aircraft was provided by Heliwest, a helicopter service company in WA.

The aircraft is equipped with night vision capabilities, a weather radar, and can fly under almost all-weather conditions. BHP said it currently has seven staff members trained and endorsed to operate on the aircraft.

The operational capacity and resources of the HEMS program has been amplified by Rio Tinto, which has increased the probability of rapid medical responses to incidents and emergencies in the Pilbara region.

In periods of high demand or when a scene is difficult to access, various WA emergency services have called upon the HEMS program for help.

BHP WAIO head of health, safety and environment Justin Williams said the HEMS program plays a critical role in providing rapid and lifesaving medical assistance.

“By offering swift transport of medical professionals and equipment to the scene of emergencies, HEMS significantly improves the chances of survival and reduces the risk of long-term health complications for individuals in need,” Williams said.

Rio Tinto Yandicoogina mine general manager Kent Franey said by combining its resources with BHP’s, medical emergencies can be effectively addressed.

“We believe that safety should extend beyond organisational boundaries, ensuring that every individual, regardless of their employer, receives the highest level of care when they need it most,” Franey said.

BHP and Rio Tinto collaborated in May to invite interest for a range of new tailings technology partners.