Archive for August, 2009

Antarctic Training, week 3
August 27, 2009

i actually got a photo of my kitchen yesterday, its cute! the kitchen / mess are two shipping containers joined together, so not big at all, but cosy, like a batch. i also got given a kitchen inventory, and a list of the foods I get to take, i can go through and refine it how i want or take the lot (think il take the lot!). Im meeting with a guy next week whose in charge of all the chefs, but we had a quick catch up yesterday – ive been asked to write down ANYTHING i think i may want there – so ive ordered a slow-cooker and rice cooker for a start! Im going to have more bodies than originally thought, plus i have alot of other duties to do to, so, anything that cuts down kitchen time will be advantageous – also, il be driving to casey (nearest station, 70km away) for resupplies probably once a week now (it was once every 10-14 days, but more bodies…), as we have limited storage at my base. thats predominantly an over nite journey to..

lots more people have turned up for their training, a guy who worked for andrill (the drilling operation whose umbrella i travelled under last time) is here, yay for the kiwis!
Yesterday I went to the Polar Medicine Unit and got some shots that i didnt get before i went away – Hepatitis A&B, tetanus is on order , so il get that at a later date, and I also gotta flu jab (never thought Id see the day!) but their reasoning is a) theres people on the ice already who havent been exposed to any flus from the mainland, and b) its detrimental to progress having people off sick with the flu. I recall last time i was there i had a couple of bad colds – air con in your bedroom, plus new arrivals most weeks doesnt help – and my base will get direct contact with people as they arrive from aussie (4 hour flight from Hobart). ok! jab me! :-/ kinda handy having a med unit right there tho, and a room full of doctors – take your pick!

Yesterday morning was fairly low key, but the afternoon was spent at Hobart Airport for fire training – avionics style. Bit of theory first, then let loose on fires out the back. Using ‘DCPs’ for extinguishing (dry chemical powder), first from extinguishers, then from a hose attached to a fire truck, with a ‘gun-like’ end, pull the trigger and out she blows! Yep, I did it with a supportive fireman (ie the instructor) helping me, the thing kicks like a mule when you fire it off, and its dcp transcentral as it comes out in full-force. Gets the fires out though, no doubt about it.

Monday was ice runway construction. HIghlight for me was a glaciologist who gave us a speel and showed some slides. The ‘snowflake guy’!! so interesting though, loved it. We learnt why our runway is where it is, what factors need to go into consideration etc etc. Guess what, it really wasnt just plonked down and built!

Had a low key weekend, well, saturday, sunday i went with one of my boys, to Port Arthur. Primo day so great to get out. Port Arthur has some great remains (from the penal colony days, not just ‘the shooting’), would be a great site for weddings, dance parties.. 🙂 on the way home we called into a ‘tassie devil’ place, just in time for feeding! wow, they go nuts for their dinner, which was ‘tails’, i cant remember off which animal, but looked like a hairless possum tail. Tassie devils are so cute! well, thats according to me, according to australians, theyre not. but, id still love to try one as a pet, get it into a muzzle and on a lead.. Last week was a short one, our 8 day first aid course finished on monday and we got tues and wed off (bonus!). Thursday was ‘aerodrome reporting’ and friday – out to Hobart Aerodrome for a course in ‘Aviation Radio Protocol’. Highlight for me? A sikorsky (helicopter) taking off right outside, during our lesson. Actually, its the one the aussies take down to the ice. All their squirrels were parked up outside to. Never got to see the Sikorsky pilot though, dam..

Today were doing hydraullics – for rescue. Ive learnt a lot about airbags this morning and just how safe the newer model of car is to own and drive. this arvo well go outside and playaround with airbags that are used to for lifting and separation – rubber suckers, 2.5cm thick walls, that inflate to 160psi and can lift all sorts.



First Week of Australian Antarctic Training
August 18, 2009

hey hey all, finally getting time to sit down an write! So, made it over to hobart just fine. kinda came the long way – queenstown – sydney – melbourne – hobart, but didnt have long in between flights.
Was straigt off to Aus Antarctic Division (aka AAD) early next morning. a bus picks us up from our apartments – its about a 15 minute drive.
First day was AAD 101 type stuff.. theres about 8 of us – ‘AGSO’s (Airport Ground Support) – yes, im fully back in the world of acronyms! Not all of us in this group will be at Wilkins – were split between 3 air strips / bases. So, ive met all my crew for Wilkins. Theres 8 of us ranging from 24 – 45 (our boss is 45). One of the guys is very quiet and keeps to himself (which stands out immeasurably), but me and the other 4 guys have bonded like selleys no more gaps 🙂

the friday was pretty much another cruisy day, with a bit of a tour around the AAD. The aads HUGE, three massive buildings, with warehousing and storage out the back. Parts of it are open to the public – cafe, small museum and display pieces – theres also a library, which i found on day one, AWESOME! Its all pertaining to the ice – from really old journals to modern novels – and two older men running it, very enthusiastic about their books i might add!

Friday night a small group of us went out – found a fantastic bar called ‘Grape’ which specialises in wine. Its heavenly, wine wine everywhere! I was hell bent on having a tuna steak for dinner – were near the sea so its seafood restaurants galore, but I couldnt find anywhere that did them, and the boys got sick of me towing them from restaurant to restaurant! So we settled in at Grape – and later on in the night I had salmon pizza, which was divine!

Next day was pretty low key – ive joined the local gym, which is the Hobart Aquatic centre, its about a ten minute walk away from where Im staying. The Australian Short Course championships were held there for the last week, kinda cool to see from where Im working out – one side of the gym looks down onto the pool.

Sunday – me and my ‘4 work cronies’ went into town for breakfast – eggs benedict at Grape, great coffee, then a visit to the national museum, there’s an Antarctic display on at the moment.

Monday at AAD was spent doing ‘Crew Resource Management Training’ – Im still a tad unclear about the gist of that whole course, as none of us are recruiting, managing or running aviation sections (it was aviation specific), however, its something different.. I think the aim of it was team building – and we get a certificate for doing it.

And then Tuesday, we started our ‘Wilderness First Aid’ course – an 8 day course that far out-shone any other first aid course Ive ever done!! I wondered about comparing it to New Zealands ‘Pre Hospital Emergency Care’ – but it differs from that again, because its aimed for those who work at least an hour away from ‘definitive medical care’. There was 21 of us in all, and we had scenario after scenario, with lessons in between. These scenarios included make-up for bruising, shock, heat etc, white chocolate pieces for teeth (tempting to ‘eat your teeth’), and a sickly, sweet mix of fake blood, that a group of us had injected up our noses for a fake fall incident (and a mouthful of it, with ‘white chocolate teeth’, that we had to let dribble out.. ) Ive never done anything as full on in my life (first aid wise) and though it was a bit of a mental drain, I flew through the 4 hours of exams yesterday – certificate on its way! The 5th day had a ‘night scenario’ – we went out into the bush in groups of five and had two ‘incidents’ to deal with. None of us knew who the patients were going to be, or what would happen – we had an ‘epileptic fit’ within the first five minutes, and then a ‘broken ankle’. Amazingly, after a very wet few days, it was a beautiful, clear starry night. We were done by 10.30pm.

Ive ha one apartment mate come and go, a French girl who drives small inflatable water craft, and now, I have a doctor staying here. She’s here for 3 weeks. She doesn’t have a base to go to – she’s down as a ‘spare’, but she’s here to do her crash courses in physio and dental care.

So, Im on days off at the moment, a nice mid-week break after such full on first aid training. I gymed this morning and then went into town for a mosey around. I like Hobart, its very like Wellington – lots of colonial style houses, wooden, colorful and colonial styles. It’s been incredibly wet lately, and swings from being cold to then mild and clammy – bring on Antarctic summer I say!

I WILL HAVE email contact at my base, its limited (NO photos or large files please) and its an address I can use now if anyone wants to start using it –

muchos lovos