Australian medevac of Antarctic expeditioner

Australia’s Airbus A319 on the ground at McMurdo base, during medical evacuation of an expeditioner
Australia’s Airbus A319 on the ground at McMurdo base, during medical evacuation of an expeditioner (Photo: Clive Srauss)

In a 3500 kilometre mercy dash from Hobart, the Australian Antarctic Division (AAD) has carried out an emergency medical evacuation of an expeditioner from a United States base in Antarctica.

The AAD received a request from the US Antarctic Program on Friday 13 March, and within a few hours sent a medical team from Hobart on Australia’s Antarctic Airbus A319.

The expeditioner was picked up from the US McMurdo station in East Antarctica and flown to Christchurch in New Zealand.

The evacuation was undertaken by an AAD medical team, supported by aeromedical and retrieval specialists from the Royal Hobart Hospital and Ambulance Tasmania through a partnership with the Centre for Antarctic, Remote and Maritime Medicine.

General Manager of Antarctic Operations & Safety at AAD, Charlton Clark, said it was an exceptional effort by everyone to ensure the mission went smoothly.

“The conditions on the ground were challenging, when the Airbus landed at McMurdo station it was around minus 30 degrees Celsius with wind chill,” Mr Clark said.

“At this time of the year most Antarctic nations have already shut down operations for the winter season, so this medical evacuation was unusual.

“We are really pleased to be able to assist the United States Antarctic Program as a first-responder in this emergency and it’s a real testament to the great spirit of cooperation between Antarctic nations.”

The US National Science Foundation’s Section Head for Antarctic Infrastructure & Logistics, Stephanie Short, said she is very grateful for the rapid response from the AAD, flight crew and medical team.

“It’s great to have the support of national partners and know that we all share a deep dedication to Antarctic research programs and personnel,” Ms Short said.

The Skytraders Airbus A319 is on charter to the AAD.