This week at Macquarie Island: 5 October 2018
This week on Macca we enjoy a favourite view from station, and report on our all-important (last!) SAR exercise
Changing seas of Macca
The old adage “every day brings something new” certainly holds true for life and living on Macca, for all things on and around the island, the wildlife, ever changing weather, landscape...and the surrounding sea.
The Southern Ocean is our doorstep, back porch and side verandah. When walking down the station, the sea lines both sides of the tiny stretch of Isthmus. Most of the time the two coasts are separated, until the tide is high enough and seas rough enough that the surge crosses the Isthmus.
Typically, the west coast is of a wild and woolly nature, as our predominant weather conditions come from the south and west. Once in a long while though, it will be as calm and still as a mill pond. The east coast on the lee side of the island is more often of the calmer nature, but at times can hurl some decent waves and rough conditions.
When all is calm and the weather windows line up, we also get the chance to head out onto the water in the IRB’s and take in the views of the island from a different perspective.
Expeditions will come and go but the ever-changing seas of Macca will continue to break on the shores of this sub-Antarctic island, with no thought to who or what may be witness to its endless movement.
SAR Training on Macca
This week we had Search and Rescue (SAR) training, with a big scenario that included the whole station - we had to locate a missing person and bring them home in a stretcher.
The story was that Angus had gone for a walk up to Gadget’s Gully and had tripped on a rope, injuring his knee and shoulder. His radio was “broken” so he couldn’t call the station and give us any details, but he pushed the help button on his Spot tracker to send a message back to the station.
The Incident Management team kicked into action when they got the message, and promptly sent Chris H and Greg out as First Responders to locate him and assess the situation. They found him after a short search, then did first aid while talking to doctor Cathryn on the radio.
After hearing that we needed a stretcher, Search and Rescue Leader Rich organised for the response team to be Jez, Chris B, Tim and Danielle. The team loaded up with the equipment required, including the stretcher, stakes, vertical and slope rescue kits, a LOT of rope, harnesses, helmets and then headed up the hill with very heavy bags.
Once the team got Angus into the stretcher it was then quite a mission to get him down the hill. Six people carried the stretcher by hand over the flatter sections of slope, then lowered the patient and two attendants down the hill using a main line and belay line. Once they finally made it down to the bottom of the hill, a wheel was attached to the stretcher to roll it along the beach.
The stretcher was then loaded on to the back of the Polaris and driven back to the doctor’s surgery. The exercise was finished off with the team lifting Angus out of the stretcher onto the clinic bed to be treated by the doctor Cathryn and the lay surgical team, just before dinner. After being tied on for hours, Angus was very happy to finally get out of that stretcher.
It was a realistic scenario with seven of us up there responding, leaving only a skeleton crew back to run the station. Considering that it took us all day to get him down the hill and back to the station, from a location very close by, one thing is for sure – we don’t ever want to have to rescue anyone for real, down island!!