Doctors prepare for extreme posting

Doctors attend to a simulated car crash victim in a scenario at Arm River in Tasmania
Doctors attend to a simulated car crash victim in a scenario at Arm River in Tasmania (Photo: Dr Clive Strauss)
Course attendees undertake stretcher carrying training

Tasmania’s rugged wilderness is the perfect training ground for Antarctic doctors preparing for an extreme posting to the icy continent. 

Three Australian Antarctic Division doctors are taking part in an eight-day Winter Expedition Medicine course at Arm River, in the state’s central highlands.

Course instructor and Antarctic Division Medical Practitioner, Dr Clive Strauss, said the doctors are learning how to manage a range of medical incidents in the field.

“In Antarctica you are thousands of kilometres from help, so you need to be highly skilled to deal with any situation that might arise,” Dr Strauss said.

“The course covers cold injury management, wound repair and the use of splints and stretchers.

“But we are also training the doctors in search and rescue techniques, rope skills, remote area communication and navigation.”

The cold and snow at Arm River are giving doctors a glimpse into the freezing conditions they are likely to face in Antarctica.

“While the course does push participants out of their comfort zone, it’s an important way to learn the best way to cope when it’s cold, snowy, dark and fatigue sets in.”

The new doctors will be the sole medical practitioners at each of Australia’s three Antarctic stations, and on sub-Antarctic Macquarie Island.

The course is a partnership between Australian Antarctic Division and the University of Tasmania.