Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Originally we had a flight scheduled to come into Pegasus today, take out winterovers, and bring in our new summer people. But it was cancelled by snow. Condition 2 out on the Ice Runway today, not looking good for the winterovers....
(Condition 3= good weather, free travel
Condition 2= no recreational travel= wind 48-55 knots, OR windchill -75 to -100, OR visibility < 1/4 mile
Condition 1= all personnel must stay indoors where they are until weather clears, except in emergency situations = sustained winds > 55 knots OR < neg 100 windchill OR visibility < 100'
debris such as small rocks, sheet metal, etc tends to get picked up and flung around, so bad time to be outside.
As Rob 1.2 (?) says, its not THAT the wind's blowing, it's WHAT the wind's blowing
Monday, September 28, 2009
Friday, September 25, 2009
'By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS',
'September 21, 2009'
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published: September 21, 2009
Filed at 7:38 a.m. ET
WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) -- An American working at a U.S. scientific base on the frozen continent of Antarctica has suffered heart problems and was being evacuated to New Zealand, the New Zealand air force said Monday.
The air force was asked to help Sunday and sent a Hercules C130 airplane on the 16-hour return flight, New Zealand Sq. Ldr. Richard Beaton said in a statement. The man suffered cardiac problems at the McMurdo base and was being flown to a hospital in Christchurch, southern New Zealand, for treatment.
He had been working as part of the U.S. Antarctic Program and was in a serious but stable condition, Beaton said. The man's name and hometown were not immediately available, nor was more information about his illness.
''He needed immediate evacuation from here for treatment'' but was stabilized for the flight, Raytheon Polar Services operations manager Kerry Chuck told The Associated Press by telephone from McMurdo.
Colorado-based Raytheon provides communications, logistics and other support services for the U.S. National Science Foundation's programs in Antarctica.
Two New Zealand defense force medics and two civilian medical staff were also on board the Hercules C130 airplane to provide medical aid during the flight back to New Zealand, Beaton said.
''Medical evacuation is a capability the air force can deliver as and when required,'' said Beaton. ''Our crews are experienced flying in and out of Antarctica and this task doesn't present any issues for us.''
Tidal movements, wind, waves, glacial movements, etc. make the 6'-12' thick sea ice shift and crack. We take our 3500 gallon tanker out and dump loads of freshwater onto the ice to fill in cracks that run across roads.
Today we also assisted in building the Ice Runway. In September, when the sea ice is thick and stable, Fleet Ops spends weeks scraping and leveling out a 10,000' runway for LC-130s. C-17s, and smaller planes. The surface of polar snow gets wind-blown into sastrugi- waves similar to the ripples on a sanddune, but on a larger scale, which have to be knocked down with heavy equipment. The Ice Runway provides a close, convenient landing spot right next to the station until the ice starts to melt in Nov/Dec.
Today it was nice- about 20 below and calm. We ran water out through a couple 2 1/2s to fill in three 3' wide crevasses that the dozer had pushed soft snow into. Once we shut down the lines we have to walk them out and roll them immediately or theyll freeze solid.
Working outside in turnout gear at 20 or 30 below in calm weather is surprisingly comfortable; it feels like Maine except that you have to watch each other's cheeks for frostbite and it's difficult to keep fingers warm unless you draw them out of the fingers of your glove and make a fist. They have some really good iron/salt chemical hand warmers here, but your fingers still freeze after a while. One of our guys got some frostnip on his cheek a week ago and its still healing. And if you go for a hike on a windy day, even if you're dressed in ECW (extreme cold weather gear), you really understand quickly what frail little animals humans are. I've had the same feeling trying to hold myself still against the force of fast, deep water, or when a wave tumbles me off my surfboard and holds me under for an uncomfortably long time. Wrapped up in a lethal force like that you start to wonder how long you could hold out if you had to, before giving up. Then you come up for air or wander into a warm comfy building and wonder how on Earth did Steven Callahan, Shackleton, and Mawson do it? Daily life in America, with its MVAs and crime, is probably a lot more dangerous than life here in McMurdo. But here most of those little distractions and competitions of hectic modern city life get stripped away and you get to be close to nature and think a little about your humble place in the grand scheme of things.
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Monday, September 21, 2009
Sunday, September 20, 2009
So what's involved in a Medevac from Antarctica?
1)EMS is called. Dispatch/EMS notifies medical immediately and gives a basic patient report. Medical personnel (the doc, nurse/labtech/xray tech/pharmicist) respond to the clinic if they're off-duty at the time. EMS treats and transports.
2)Medical clinic stabilizes patient, performs basic tests such as xray and labs, administers medications and conducts basic procedures. EMS assists as requested.
3)Early in treatment patient is triaged and a medevac decision is made by the medical team.
4)Ongoing treatment of patient.
If Medevac is called for, several station departments go to work to get ready for the flight. At this time of year for instance, no regular flights are coming in. This year there are two airfields at McMurdo: an annual sea ice runway for the warm season which is still under construction, and the year-round runways at Pegasus airfield. Because Pegasus is not active it must be supplied with electricity and basic infrastructure for the flight. Pegasus runway has to be groomed. The road to Pegasus (a 1-2 hr trip depending on conditions) passes over the rugged land-to-sea-ice Transition and the ARFF vehicles need to put in service and gotten past the Transition and out to Pegasus. On the other end, a medical crew preferably including a doc needs to be assembled in Christchurch, NZ. NZ or the US supplies a C17 (5 hr flight 1-way) or an LC130 (8 hr flight) and flight crew. Then the weather needs to be decent (by Antarctic standards).
What does all this cost? According to my sources, scheduled C130 flights to the Ice run around $150-200,000. A Medevac is more in the neighborhood of $1mil. So what's the cap on your health insurance policy?
We have some good innovations down here, but I know there's more we could do.
Startin with firehouse.com...
Saturday, September 19, 2009
Friday, September 18, 2009
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Sounds like a good idea, right?
So far anyway(knock on wood)... oh well dont bet what you cant afford to lose.
Feeling a little fuzzy today after a week of The Cold from Hell. Not sure what it was but an acquaintance got so wiped by it he sat down outside his work building to rest and decided it was a good idea to take a nap there (-30 that day). Fortunately a coworker came along. Been up for 3 days coughing, station store's closed... the doc took a look at me and offered me my first taste of Schedule IIIs. Vicodin woohoo! Turned it down though, jeez all i wanted was some Nyquil! Hope they add this strain to the flu shot brew for next year.
Feeling better now. My Kelly day's tomorrow so I get three days off. Did a P90X cardio workout today followed by Abs. Thinking about a hike to Castle Rock this week. Explanation: We work 24 on 24 off and each of us has an assigned Kelly day that we get off. Mine is Thursday so I'm always off on Thursdays. The way it works out this month is that I work this Tuesday, off Thursday, work Sat, Mon, Wed, Fri, Sun, Tues, then get my Thursday off again and so forth.
Shift change is at 0800 every day, so we're expected to be at the station by 0745 to get our gear on the truck we're assigned to for the day, tag in, and check our MSA pack over, relieve the offgoing person assigned to that seat and get a briefing from them. Our first shift was Tuesday. We spent the morning cleaning the station and fixing equipment (it breaks down fast and frequently here). We have a 1 hour workout then lunch. We spent the afternoon doing Driver/Operator and Dispatch training. The remainder of the shift, 1700-0800, is our own time to spend as we see fit. At 0800 the second day we do shift swap including a group briefing with the oncoming crew, then we have the day to ourselves.
After working an ungodly number of hours/wk the past 18 months, it's really, really great to have Time to do simple things like read, workout, and hang out with people.
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
Saturday, September 5, 2009
Polar stratospheric clouds, also known as nacreous clouds, are clouds in the winter polar stratosphere at altitudes of 50,000–80,000 ft. They are implicated in the formation of ozone holes; their effects on ozone depletion arise because they support chemical reactions that produce active chlorine which catalyzes ozone destruction, and also because they remove gaseous nitric acid, perturbing nitrogen and chlorine cycles in a way which increases ozone destruction.
The stratosphere is very dry; unlike the troposphere, it rarely allows clouds to form. In the extreme cold of the polar winter, however, stratospheric clouds of different types may form, which are classified according to their physical state and chemical composition.
Due to their high altitude and the curvature of the surface of the Earth, these clouds will receive sunlight from below the horizon and reflect it to the ground, shining brightly well before dawn or after dusk.
PSCs form at very low temperatures, below −78 °C. These temperatures can occur in the lower stratosphere in polar winter. In the Antarctic, temperatures below −88 °C frequently cause type II PSCs. Such low temperatures are rarer in the Arctic. In the Northern hemisphere, the generation of lee waves by mountains may locally cool the lower stratosphere and lead to the formation of PSCs.