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.

Tim Kerr

A view taken out to sea in Hasselborough Bay on Macca's west coast with a succession of larger breaking waves coming in
Rough seas of Hasselborough Bay
(Photo: Tim Kerr)
A succession of breaking waves coming through off Handspike Point on Maccas west coast
Surf sets coming through off Handspike Point
(Photo: Tim Kerr)
Looking south along the west coast of the isthmus with waves crashing onto the beach
Waves crashing onto the west coast
(Photo: Tim Kerr)
Looking south along the west coast of the isthmus on a rare calm day
A calmer day in Hasselborough Bay
(Photo: Tim Kerr)

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!!

Danielle McCarthy

The Incident Management Team in the mess planning the details of the search and rescue as the details emerge at the start of the exercise
The support team back at the station planning the rescue as details…
(Photo: Danielle McCarthy)
Up near Gadgets Gully the first responders found Angus and had him out of the weather in a bothy bag while they carried out first aid
The first responders, Chris and Greg, found Angus and got him out…
(Photo: Danielle McCarthy)
First responder Chris doing 'obs' on the patient Angus and relaying the information back to the Doctor on station by radio
First responder Chris doing 'obs' on the patient Angus and relaying the…
(Photo: Danielle McCarthy)
A team of rescuers get ready to lift Angus in the stretcher to carry him along a flatter section of hill in the recent Macca SAR exercise
Tim, Jez, Rich, Greg, Chris H & Chris B get ready to…
(Photo: Danielle McCarthy)
In the final stages of the rescue exercise Chris B gets ready to lower Angus in the stretcher with Jez and Greg as attendants down the hill under instruction from Rich our SAR Lord
Chris B getting ready to lower Angus in the stretcher with Jez…
(Photo: Danielle McCarthy)
Jez, Greg and stretcher-bound Angus being lowered gradually down the hill by rope in the recent SAR exercise on Macca
Jez, Greg and stretcher-bound Angus being lowered down the hill
(Photo: Danielle McCarthy)
Jez, Greg and stretcher-bound Angus nearly at the bottom of the slope and onto the beach in the recent SAR exercise on Macca
Jez, Greg and stretcher-bound Angus nearly at the bottom of the slope…
(Photo: Danielle McCarthy)
The rescue team have fitted the wheel attachment to the stretcher containing Angus to help distribute the weight as they carry it along the beach towards the waiting Polaris
Greg, Rich, Tim, Chris B and Chris H have stretcher-bound Angus attached…
(Photo: Danielle McCarthy)
The stretcher containing Angus is strapped onto the back of the Polaris with Ranger Chris attending ready for transport back to station in a recent SAR training exercise on Macca recently
The stretcher containing Angus is strapped onto the back of the Polaris…
(Photo: Richard Youd)
The training continues into the medical facility as Cathryn the doctor puts the lay surgical team through their paces with primary care for the patient in a recent SAR exercise on Macca
Finally made it to the clinic - Doctor Cathryn with the lay…
(Photo: Vicki Heinrich)