In between news items

Date: Thu, 21 Dec 2000

I haven't been writing much since we've been in a straight work stretch between holidays. Wake up, stumble to the bathroom building, walk to the Dome, have coffee, work, eat, work, eat, sleep. I finally figured out why Sundays (our only day off) seem so short: I start off by sleeping until noon, and I still go to bed at 10. Last Sunday was a gorgeous day so I skiied out to the ski hut, one of our two recreational destinations here. I was getting fed up with the Dome scene and it was good to get out by myself for a bit. You don't have to get too far away from the station to feel separated. Get far enough out so that the heavy equipment noise is replaced by the sound of the wind and you can't help but think different thoughts than what you think inside a big tin geodesic dome. I watched the Basler (reconditioned DC-3) land on its way back from setting up one of the remote geophysical sites, boy it looked small from out there.

The station is slowly starting to pay attention to the impending holiday weekend: we'll get Sunday and Monday off. There are decorations up in the galley and several (fake) trees have magically sprouted inside the Dome. It' s pretty low-key though, several work days to get through before we get there. I started making some holiday cards and realized how many people I know here. Can't leave anybody out of course.

Today something happened: our first expedition of the year arrived! Two nice young Norwegian gentlemen who wintered at Troll Base in Dronning Maud Land, and got a head-start on everybody else since they were already on the continent. They're on skis, using parasails when the wind cooperates. Considering that they've been completely alone since October 21, they dealt very well with the two dozen or so of us who came out to meet them as they approached the Pole. They were cheerful and didn't have any visible frostbite. They'll camp out here for two nights before they continue to McMurdo. They're making a point of being unsupported but they will come in and use our radio and/or email, since their communication system (Iridium satellite phones) switched access format after they left Troll and they haven't talked to their home base in a while. I suppose if they're purists they won't even drink our coffee, but we'll see. We're down to instant anyway - maybe they'd like hot cocoa.

[Later] Stopped by in Comms, the Norwegians (Rolf and Eirik) found the ham shack. Neil set them up and they both got to talk to their families. I won't make any unfounded guesses about a purely unsupported expedition but one of them had a galley mug in his hand.

Anything else? We had an exciting emergency drill last week, the organizers set up a combined fire/medical scenario. It was the first time the trauma team practiced together with the fire brigade, so we did turn up some issues (e.g., the emergency medical van was in the action, but with an untrained fire brigade driver who wasn't checking in on the radio) but overall people knew (and did) their jobs. I appreciated the professionalism of our crew: the alarm went off while I was working out, but throughout the whole drill nobody commented once on my flowery shorts and polka dot bandanna. The experience was an interesting complement to a minor but real medical incident the previous evening, when a steelworker fell 12 feet off a deck and landed on some angle iron. He wound up with some head lacerations and a possible minor break in his wrist (he's in McMurdo now), but the response was confused because of poor communication and a broken radio onsite. Non-trauma team personnel took it on themselves to grab the emergency van and promptly buried it up to the axles in soft snow, then grabbed a Spryte, all without mentioning to the doctor or Comms what was happening. On the plus side, two of our most experienced EMTs happened to be out there at the time (one close enough to try to grab him as he fell) so the guy himself actually got excellent care. We debriefed on the incident and we debriefed on the drill and it's all part of the improvement process. Phew.

Other news - Package mail is still stuck in Christchurch, maybe we'll see it next week. I'm not going to get started on the kazoo ensemble. Better left undescribed.

Hope you're all well, have a great week,


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