Within the last two weeks a marine technician aboard the other Antarctic research vessel chartered by the National Science Foundation, the Nathaniel Palmer, had to be evacuated. The ship was near Thwaites Glacier (more about that research tomorrow) and four days away from the nearest research station: Rothera - a base of the British Antarctic Survey.
Before deploying to Antarctica everyone undergoes a comprehensive physical exam. However, accidents and acute illnesses can occur. Those situations are terrifying because we are so far away from proper hospitals. On board the Nathaniel Palmer there is a emergency medical technician. Here at Palmer Station we have Dr. Richard Harper. Even then, though, there are limits to what can be done on station.
So, what happens in a medical emergency here at Palmer Station? It is likely that a call will be issued to all ships in the vicinity of Palmer Station to see who could take the patient to the British Antarctic Survey at Rothera Research Station, about 400 km further south. Rothera is key in increasing the survivorship because they are only 4 flight hours away (they have an air strip for planes) from Punta Arenas where a large hospital is located.
The message? Stay safe and be very, very careful when working here.
Thank you, Rich, for looking out for us.