This week at the station

This week at Davis: 3 May 2013

ANZAC Day at Davis

ANZAC Day is a day of reflection, of sharing stories and good times with mates and remembering the great sacrifices made by those who fought for us and those serving today - a sentiment that was shared by all on station this ANZAC Day.

Our dawn service was well attended and orchestrated by our uniformed representative with readings by station leader Jason, deputy Gavin and Bob along with a song by our very own Doc Mal. It was a moving ceremony which was well received by all in the chilly pre-dawn. Afterwards, a 'gunfire' breakfast and a chance to trade stories of family who had served and of personal visits to Gallipoli and other battle fields around the world.

We then moved on to a friendly game of Two-up and listening to the football match, followed by Gavin’s pick of Australian films for the day. We all commemorated the meaning of ANZAC Day in our own way. 

Lest we forget. 

Mark, Aaron and Col Raise the Australian, Aboriginal and New Zealand flags
Raising the flags as Reveille is sounded
(Photo: Rich Y)
Standing in front of the Australian, Aboriginal and New Zealand flags, Gavin conducts the Dawn Service while the rest of the Davis crew look on.
Gathered for the dawn service
(Photo: Rich Y)
Station leader Jason recites The Ode
A reading by Jason
(Photo: Rich Y)
The wintering crew at Davis stand before the Australian, Aboriginal and New Zealand flags flying at half mast
Davis crew at dawn
(Photo: Rich Y)
Aaron watches on as Mal V. takes his turn in the ring
Come in spinner
(Photo: Rich Y)
Richard taking a break while others watch on from the ring for the toss of the coins
Enjoying the Two-up
(Photo: Mal V)

Hydroponics and creating kitchen magic

One of the important activities on station is the ability to apply our respective ‘green thumbs’ up in hydroponics to grow our only source of fresh produce. Many of the crew have volunteered for the observation roster to keep the tanks correctly balanced for nutrients and water, and a number bandied together for a recent working bee to give hydroponics a spruce up and a birthday present of a new lettuce bay.

Thanks to the ongoing efforts and care of the plants by all, the latest yield data to hand from hydroponics master Bob is a monster haul of 96 kg since December of fresh produce. Our chef, Rocket, has been loving the steady stream of fresh herbs, leafy greens, chillies, tomatoes and cucumbers, making the most of it with amazing salads and dishes that has brought praise from all. Assailed by the aromas of fresh Basil, Mizuna,Thyme and Rocket (Arugula), Rocket shares his creativity in the kitchen with those lucky enough to be rostered on as slushy for Saturday special dinners.

The hydroponics team is apparently aiming to increase the yield further and break the magic 200kg barrier for the year. Good luck team and keep the creative juices flowing Rocket!

Fresh tomatoes from the hydroponics shed
Tomato bounty
(Photo: Bob S)
Rocket takes in the aroma of a fresh batch of herbs in the kitchen
The aroma of fresh herbs
(Photo: Bob S)
Rocket uses the latest fresh produce from hydroponics to create a fresh salad
Creating Rocket kitchen magic
(Photo: Bob S)
Fresh herbs from hydroponics add colour to steak and vegetables
Saturday dinner creation by Rocket
(Photo: Rich Y)

Working in Antarctica – A medical practitioner’s perspective

Why work in Antarctica when there’s plenty of work at home? Good question and, yes, medical practitioners are in great demand in most places in Australia. I arrive in this situation, taking on a wintering medical practitioner position at Davis, in a “Sliding Doors” moment (from the Film directed /produced by Peter Howitt). That is, life’s possibilities put me in a situation amenable to change.

I didn’t have any previous ambition to be here except perhaps a distant boyhood fascination with the aurora borealis when I lived in Britain. Now that I have seen aurora australis in its splendour, I just need to get to the far north at some stage to complete the quinella.

This winter at Davis we have 17 expeditioners, including myself, in this very remote - dare I say - part of Australia! Someone has to be here as general practitioner, nurse, pharmacist, cleaner, radiologist, haematologist, microbiologist, dentist, and educationalist - among other things - to support the expeditioners in their year round work and recreation.

This broad sweep of work is what attracted me to polar medicine. Here, acquisition and up-skilling in multiple medical areas occurs as a matter of necessity. This multi-faceted training indeed reflects the changing role of medical practise in Australia. Long gone are these once common place skills from the practitioner in suburban practice.

Isolation doesn’t necessarily mean inferior or risky. I have an extensive armamentaria of specialists, experience and advice available via telephone, internet and telemedicine.

The environment naturally (pardon the pun) is phenomenal. The experience of Antarctic weather conditions and fauna (not a lot of flora to get excited about) is breathtaking - another huge attraction and benefit of the work I enjoy.

For me another terrific experience is that of community living. It takes special people to take the plunge and work in Antarctica and the wide skill set of expeditioners highlights what a talented group they are. 

So come on in, the water’s fine!

View of the medical assessment area, showing bed and other medical instruments
Assessment area
(Photo: Mal V)
View of the scrub room sinks and cabinets
Scrub room
(Photo: Mal V)
View of operating theatre and instruments with operating table taking centre stage
Theatre anyone?
(Photo: Mal V)
View of the ANARE satellite radome from the doctors office
Room with a view
(Photo: Mal V)
Doc provides training for expeditioners on a piece of medical equipment
(Photo: Gavin H-T)
Doc Mal shows some visitors from the Indian station through the stations medical facilities
Visitors from India's base
(Photo: Gavin H-T)