Whiteout Medical Training

The condition 2 storm at McMurdo yesterday. Condition 2 blizzard = -40 deg F w/ wind chill, 40 mph winds, < 100 feet vis. and so on. Flights were halted for several days so the put-in WAIS crew never even made it to the ice runway. We're about a week behind with the put-in, but that's typical and well pre-planned. I will be flying out next Friday, give or take a couple days. Here are some photos of the blizzard...

Snow drifts.

The peak of the storm.

The 'yellow jackets' are the Aussies.

Once the storm was over I began my three days of field medical training. I am not a EMT or W-EMT or WFR, but I know a few tricks of the trade. The more you practice the more you learn ;) The most common health hazards I came across at South Pole were: altitude sickness, hypothermia, frost bite, dehydration, airborne toxins (CO2, glycol), slips, trips, falls, runover by big machines and getting toasty (loss of memory, focus, balance, sanity, etc. due to longterm low O2 levels in a remotely isolated environment with the same 47 people for 8 months). WAIS hazards are primarily hypothermia, CO2 (i.e., propane heater gas leaks) and getting running over by big machines. We are at ~5300 feet in altitude, so no biggy there and there's not a lot of landscape challenges besides strastrugi; no crevasses. We'll all be working in close proximity to the camp. No polar bears. Researchers and traverse teams may voyage far off into the flat white ice and we might therefore provide a support base camp for any SAR mission. The WAIS summer is short, sweet and sunny - no one has an excuse of going toasty there. Out of our current 15-person WAIS staff team, 5 peeps (including myself) are dedicated and well-trained medical hands. We're lucky to have a NP on board too.


Splints and slings.

E-vac body brace.

Unraveling our backboard.

Oooh, how cute, a playboy bunny buckle on the backboard.

Half backboard and C-spine precautions.

There is no I in WAIS, there is only WAIS.

Oxygen is good to have,

But having a hyperbaric oxygen chamber is better. Depending on the situation. A side note, after doing vitals I found that my resting body temp. is 96.1 F degrees, which has always been the case for me in the polar environments. At South Pole I would wake at 94 F. I operate quite efficiently with Type 1 hypothermia. A few years ago a Doc told me that I belong to the race of 'cold cucumbers'.

The finale of today was a GPS refresher course. I learned how to establish a route of waypoints along the beaches and hiking trails of McMurdo and turn each waypoint icon into a picture of an elephant. I finished the class with a GPS map full of elephants and each time you got near one the unit beeped.

Whatever this is a diagram of do not go near. Danger.