Under Respond Global’s social enterprise model, the HELPR (Health, Emergency, Logistics, Preparedness + Response) program seeks to prioritise and empower in-country response capability. Many Pacific Island Countries (PICs) in the region have experienced devastating natural and health disasters in recent years, which has greatly impacted its people and health systems. Founded on the concept of National Emergency Medical Teams, the HELPR program helps to provide stronger operations and logistics support to PICs.
HELPR1 is a medical emergency response and logistics support vessel carrying medical equipment and supplies to assist in the reduction of loss of life.
Stationed in Vanuatu, HELPR1 can provide medical equipment, personnel, training, and supplies wherever needed in PICs, from PNG to Samoa, and beyond. The vessel is fully equipped with medical rooms and vaccine storage.
HELPR1 provides a safe logistical, operational, and accommodation base for use by national response teams, with support from Respond Global and other agencies as required.
The medical capacity on board is to the level of Intensive Care, with a fully equipped resuscitation room housing bottled oxygen, an oxygen concentrator, two ventilators, full cardiac monitoring, and the entire range of medical and trauma equipment and drugs required.
A fully-equipped trauma response bag is kept on board, as well as everything that is required for a response team to medevac a sick patient off the vessel to shore or to the nearest hospital.
Located opposite the treatment room is a large medical store and preparation room that serves several functions:
HELPR1’s maiden voyage is to provide logistical and health support to the Vanuatu Ministry of Health in its COVID-19 vaccination rollout, as well as support the restoration of essential health services, childhood vaccines, and the delivery of supplies to remote and hard-to-reach communities.
Being stationed in the Pacific means that HELPR1 can take action in the first 72 hours after the onset of a health crisis, primarily to act as a mobile base of operations for national response teams responding to disasters.
HELPR1 can be used for vaccine and health campaigns and programs run by central and provincial health ministries. The vessel can also be used for remote access by local teams from disaster management and emergency services, education, fisheries, and agriculture as well as for research purposes by National and International teams and partners.
HELPR1 has the capacity for on-board medical training of national teams preparing to respond to natural disasters and critical events.
The vessel accommodates training spaces in both outdoor and indoor areas, allowing for simulations of medical missions, water safety training, and disaster preparedness.
The vessel has a large number of cabins to accommodate teams on board while they are being trained, making it a cost-effective and unique educational experience.
HELPR1 carries 44 passengers comfortably, with up to 56 during emergency deployments. The 12-person marine crew includes both international and local crew members.
The crew includes a Master (Captain) and Chief Engineer, two-deck officers, two additional engineers, two deckhands, a cook, a galley assistant, and a cleaner. Importantly, we employ 10 Ni-Vanuatu seafarers providing employment and capacity building opportunities.
HELPR1 is equipped with three full sets of shade shelters, generators, and the required furniture to create three separate pop-up clinics for vaccination in three separate locations, or to bring all equipment to one location for a very large clinic.
Over 30 foldable tables and 200 chairs are provided for clinic use. These can be carried along with the vaccination equipment to each location daily. Each clinic is managed by medical and administrative staff, as well as a dedicated cold-chain manager. Cold chain is ensured through mobile fridges powered by battery and a portable generator, in addition to two backup ice chests.
HELPR1 can lower a large “explorer” tender into the water, allowing health teams to enter directly from the aft deck and be safely lowered into the water without difficult stair or rope access.
The explorer has been upgraded to include two large cargo cages, allowing the safe transport of equipment and supplies, along with a 27-person health team on each trip to a remote beach or island.
HELPR1 also carries 2 rigid inflatable rescue/tender craft which are lowered into the water via an on board crane.