Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Wilderness Emergency Responder Training

Ok, since one of my three readers has complained I'm not posting fast enough here is what is happening so far in Denver.

CISM, Critical Incident Stress Management: This one-day course was not an auspicious start to the two weeks of training. Eight hours of lecture about potential psychological issues for winter-overs at the Pole and what to look out for. Useful and mildly interesting but I became concerned this was going to be a very long two weeks until day two arrived with ...drumroll...

Wilderness First Responder Training! WOW! What a great course! After a few hours of interesting and humorous lecture we broke into small groups and moved outside for simulated incident scenarios. Some of us played victims (complete with fake blood and bruise make-up, a list of symptoms, behavior and complaints) while the others evaluated the situation and treated us on the spot. We learned how to complete head-to-toe evaluations, do chunk evaluations when time is of a premium, how to identify spinal injuries and immobilize the patient, to evaluate LOR (Level of Responsiveness), how to remove victims from awkward situations without causing additional harm, and how to give CPR. And this was just the first day!

The remaining days were spent learning and practicing things like how to stop arterial bleeding, splint broken bones, apply traction splints and SAM splints, what to ignore (because they are beyond first responder's abilities to treat), how to report correctly to a remote medical professional, and how to identify and treat hypothermia. Of course all was oriented toward doing this in sub-zero temperatures. We even had to wear mittens for some scenarios. Trust me, taping a patient's head to a backboard while wearing mittens is no easy task.

For three days the hotel parking lot looked like a small disaster area. Victims were laying in the parking lot, in ditches, over rocks and under trees with teams running back and forth. Face up, face down, curled up, conscious, unconscious, fake blood, occasional screams and combativeness. Not to mention practicing carrying victims in a litter across parking lots, up and down stairs and through halls and doorways. Once, after a scenario, I was loading a backboard and kit bag into an elevator when a guest asked me if there was an emergency in the hotel.

I'm going to give a plug for the instructor of this course, Mark Crawford of the Wilderness Medical Institute. Mark is the perfect trainer for this course having been a career Air Force SAR team member and combat parajumper. Every bit of theory in this course was backed up with real-life stories about situations he has experienced, including mistakes and successes. There were two EMT's in our group and they seemed in awe of Mark. If you need emergency responder training at any level, including for physicians, WMI are the people to call.

Now on to Firefighter Training which will start Friday. They say that is the really fun course. If it's any better than this I'm not leaving Denver.

Days to the Ice: 122

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Emergency Response Training

138 Days to the Ice
Things are starting to move along. My pre-deployment emergency response training in Denver will start in 10 days and I have learned what its components will be:

Critical Incident Stress Management Training: 1 day
Trauma Team Training: 3 days
Fire Brigade Training: 5 days
OSHA Training: 1 day
Raytheon Orientation*: 2 days

*Raytheon Orientation is normally given immediately before deployment, so that part may be postponed until nearer my deployment date in February. Still, it's going to be a busy two weeks.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

New Style

I'm changing my blog's style as you can see.  I don't think flower anthers really fit an Antarctica blog so I'm working on changing the header image. Be patient - it isn't a simple JPG sitting up there that I can switch.

[Update] Aha! Changed to a Pole panorama.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Live Cam at the Pole

RETURN OF LIVE PICTURES - The live web cam at the South Pole Station is operational again today after being off-line for the winter.  Above is a view taken 9 September.  I can’t believe that’s daylight so soon.  I’ll check with my Polie friend when satellite communication is available later today.  Note the line of flags that guides people to and from the main station year-round when ground level visibility is poor.  This photo is taken from an atmospheric research building in the Clean Air Sector (you can see the building as a tiny dot at the far left of the sidebar aerial photo). 

Current SP temperature -89F, wind at 10 mph. Wind chill -126F.

[Update] Haven't heard from the Pole yet but I think this really is daylight at the Pole! Sunrise is September 21, only 12 days away, so this is pre-dawn light coming from the Sun circling just below the horizon.  I bet there are a bunch of excited Polies right about now.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Outfitting an Expedition

THE ECONOMICS OF SHOPPING - Few of us do all our shopping in one huge super-market trip once a year, but that is exactly what has to happen when you spend a winter at the Pole.  Yes, meals are supplied, but only in the cafeteria, and as well-prepared as they might be it is still rather institutional.  For  example, cafeteria cheeses are probably that cheese-like orange stuff called “cheddar” that comes in extruded cubes or the stuff called Parmesan you shake out of a green container. As an American I was practically raised on all that but I also know there is better. Much better. 
So, the nicer things in life that make it all bearable are not supplied at the Pole - like really good tea and coffee.  Or skin moisturizer (required in the ultra-dry conditions), or really good chocolate.  As I have found out, eight and a half months of anything is a lot of stuff.  For example:
  • A mere 1.5 oz of cheese a day is 24 lbs 0f cheese in eight and a half months! Since one 7 pound wheel of a medium quality Manchego cheese costs $125 that's over $450!
  • One 1 ounce drink of single malt scotch  per day = 1.1 bottles per month.  Which is 9 times $60 (cheap scotch!) or $540.
  • Heck, even one bag of Dorritos a week equals 34 bags of Dorritos,  $70!!!
And what else do I want to take for eight months? Espresso coffee ($150), Earl Grey tea ($150), good chocolate - two bars/week turns into 68 bars ($210), 8.5 months of skin moisturizers ($200), batteries ($200),  WOW!  This is like outfitting an EXPEDITION!

145 day to the Pole