Whether it’s a drilling rig or a war zone, Anodyne Services Australia provides the highest-quality healthcare in the toughest of conditions.
Based out of Queensland but with operations in Europe, Africa and Asia, Anodyne Services Australia (ASA) has saved lives in almost every corner of the globe. The company supplies medical support to public and private sector clients in remote areas, ranging from primary healthcare to emergency response. Current and previous clients include the Australian Government, United Nations, UK Government, US Department of Defence, regional police services and oil & gas companies.
ASA was founded in 2004 by Dr Ronald Ti, who was working as a medical doctor with the Australian armed forces at the time. He saw gaps in the market for medical subcontracting, explains ASA Chief Executive Gavin Torrens, because there were few providers and those in the market could not handle challenging environments.
“ASA began by mainly undertaking consulting business, but then the Afghanistan conflict provided a lot of work and growth for us,” says Torrens. “We proceeded to branch out into many different markets, becoming primarily an exporter of services. However, ASA is now doing more work in Australia these days.
Torrens was working as a safety consultant in the business development sector when he met Ti, who convinced him to join ASA. Initially joining the team to lead International Business Development, Torrens soon moved into the role of Chief Operating Officer and then Chief Executive, before purchasing a share in the company to become a Director.
Most of ASA’s growth has been in its breadth of work and depth of experience. The company has operated just about everywhere except the US and the UK, yet its permanent head office team comprises a small but effective team. “We run a tight ship, bringing staff in and out as we require,” explains Torrens.
“Many of our people join on fixed-term contracts, to work with us on specific fixed-term projects. At one stage we had more than 70 people in Afghanistan, and the same number spread across a number of other projects across the world. At the moment, we have more than 50 people working on projects throughout Australia.”
The majority of ASA’s work is in medical logistics, such as the three years it provided the ambulance service at Kandahar airfield in Afghanistan. This job involved doctors, nurses, paramedics and ambulance drivers, and was almost entirely emergency response with a little bit of primary healthcare for selected parties. Another example is the helicopter medical evacuation service it provided in Southern Sudan. ASA is experienced in sourcing tested and proven vehicles and equipment, and offers clients advice on the best ways to maximise their use.
ASA’s Australian work falls mostly within the resources sector, where projects can be equally if not more remote than ASA’s conflict-related jobs. “In the resources sector we work across many levels of both primary healthcare and emergency response; our work’s taken us from consulting in Mongolia, to providing an entire health network across a very large gas project,” says Torrens.
“It includes making sure people know how to treat snakebite and check hydration, as well as health promotion and first aid training, where we’re informing people about issues such as mental health and breast cancer. Then there are the primary healthcare presentations, where we address patients’ minor health concerns, all the way through to emergency response, where we’re responding to truck rollovers or other incidents that could lead to us taking people to hospital, working with the local ambulance service or calling in aeromedical evacuation services.”
Particularly in areas that have seen large population influxes recently, local health services can become overloaded and require people to wait days before they can see a doctor. Through working with ASA, resources companies can ensure their employees will always get high-quality medical care when and where they need it – which can be crucial in their remote and relatively high-risk operations. One example is a coal seam gas project ASA has in eastern Australia, where it operates off-road ambulances and provides doctors, nurses, practitioner’s nurses and paramedics to provide health promotion, primary healthcare and emergency response.
Operating in harsh, remote and very large environments brings with it particular challenges, which ASA has learnt how to overcome through extensive research, development and situational awareness. “We spend a lot of time making sure we’ve looked thoroughly at the environments we’re going into,” he says.
“A few weeks ago I was in Papua New Guinea, using boats, 4-wheel drives, helicopters and light aircraft to get around all the sites on this large oil & gas project we’re being considered for. So there are logistical, supply chain and operational challenges, but with years of experience we have solutions in place to ensure continual service delivery.
“However, we’re not set in our ways,” Torrens continues. “Where our competitors tend to have specific ways of doing things, we remain consultative, which is something we work very hard at. We enjoy sitting down and taking some time to work with the client, to develop a solution ideal for them, this is all part of becoming part of the team.”
Open to anything
ASA’s service is both rare, in its environmental breadth and flexibility, and replicable, in its provision of primary healthcare to consistent standards. Torrens says replication of ASA’s service is “quite easy” and as a result the company can quickly expand to meet demand.
“The skillset of our staff is consistent with high Western standards; we apply high-quality Australian standards to everything we do; and a lot of our standards are built on the British system,” he adds. “This means that when we’re dealing with wounded children in Afghanistan, they’re receiving the exact same treatment and care that they’d get in central Queensland.”
ASA is looking at a wide range of future work opportunities – from providing support at a dam reconstruction project in Iraq, to setting up a new health network in Papua New Guinea. The company is also considering additional work in the Solomon Islands, the Middle East, Africa, Australia, South America and the US.
While ASA is open to expanding into new countries and applications, it is equally ready to contract if it means providing the best service. “We set ourselves up to be flexible to client needs – to both grow and contract services as required for the client as the mission changes. This is a key part of effective service delivery and cost control,” says Torrens.
“Our business aim is to continue to provide an excellent level of service, to be flexible and friendly, and to maintain a cost-effective viewpoint as well. There are a lot of people out there charging a lot, simply because they get carried away with their margins. For us, it’s just a matter of controlling our overheads, looking for opportunities to move forward and, basically, being open to anything.”