Doctors destined for Australian research stations far from Antarctica faced the rugged and rugged nature of Tasmania to hone their skills for life on the ice.
Cold nights, isolation and sheer cliffs are just a few of the challenges facing four new Antarctic medics, who are scheduled to travel to Casey, Mawson, Davis and Macquarie Island stations over the summer.
The eight-day crash course in expedition medicine was held at the Mount Cameron Field Study Center in northeast Tasmania.
Dr Clive Strauss, an Antarctic medicine practitioner with the Australian Antarctic Division (AAD), said it was just a glimpse of the harsh environment that awaited doctors.
âOur stations are extremely isolated communities. With only one doctor for each, it is absolutely essential that they are prepared for a wide range of scenarios, âsaid Dr Strauss.
Participants searched and rescued thick bush, climbed rocks to reach patients, and shivered through the cold Tasmanian night.
âWhile Tasmania is a world away from the frozen mainland, the landscape is harsh and mostly cold,â Dr Strauss said.
âThe location was especially useful for focusing on practical skills such as rope working and knotting knots. It was the perfect classroom.
The course also provided important elements in the management of cold injuries, wound treatment, communication in remote areas as well as navigation and skills in the field.
Operations and security chief executive Charlton Clark said each station medic was also supported by the Hobart-based Polar Medicine Unit.
âThe Australian Antarctic Division has spent decades developing and refining the way we deliver medical care in Antarctica and the Southern Ocean,â said Mr. Clark.
“We need to make sure that our doctors not only have the best medical training, but also the best expeditionary training.”
New Antarctic medicine practitioner Dr Bosco Li said the week had been a rewarding experience.
âSeeing how a blend of knowledge and skills can be used to advance our understanding of the world around us, while creating fun and loving memories along the way could be something pretty amazing,â said Dr Li.
Federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley wished the new recruits good luck on their posting to Antarctica.
âAntarctica is an unpredictable place and they could face all kinds of situations,â said Minister Ley.
âDoctors don’t have hospital teams on site, they can’t easily transfer patients. They bear a huge responsibility.
The Antarctic-related physicians have been joined by other healthcare professionals on the course, which is open to the public and run by the University of Tasmania’s Remote and Extreme Environments Healthcare Program as as partners with the AAD at the Center for Antarctic, Remote and Maritime Medicine. .