Antarctic video gallery
Injured expeditioner evacuated by US aircraft
Watch a video of Dr Tony Press and Dr Jeff Ayton of the Australian Antarctic Division along with Captain Greg Richert and Major Dave Lafrance of the US Air Force speaking to the media
Injured expeditioner evacuated by US aircraft
Dr Tony Press:
Well, it was a great relief last night to see the aircraft carrying Dwayne land at Hobart Airport shortly before midnight and, on behalf of all the Australian Antarctic expeditioners, we wish him the best. The second thing I’d like to say is that it’s a great tribute to the medical staff and the lay medical team that have looked after Dwayne for the last 18 days that he’s arrived in as good a shape as he could and the reports are that he’s as well as can be expected under very trying circumstances.
The third thing is that I’d really like to thank our colleagues from the US National Science Foundation and US Antarctic Program and our friends from the US Airforce that have given us a great deal of assistance in getting Dwayne back to Australia. This is something that underpins the spirit of the Antarctic Treaty and the cooperation between Antarctic Treaty parties and we’re very, very thankful for the help.
The last thing I’d like to say is my staff have done a magnificent job and I’m really proud of them.
Captain Greg Richert:
For the patient’s safety, we had to make sure to keep him immobilised due to his injuries, which was very complicated in a plane. They vibrate quite a bit, which can also add to a lot of pain problems due to his injuries, which I really shouldn’t get into for privacy’s sake. He had a significant amount of injuries that required a lot of pain control. For that, we ended up having to sedate him entirely for the entire flight so, because of that, we chose to bring a critical care specialist with me from Hawaii which came down a couple of days before the mission.
And then also we had a physician from the Australian Antarctic Division Department, who was a critical care specialist and critical care nurse from their team come, along with my three-person (myself included) team at McMurdo Station gave us an eight-person medical team that was able to intensively monitor the patient the entire flight, keep him stable, keep him sedated for comfort and basically make sure his positioning didn’t change that would further aggravate his injuries.
And the entire flight he was stable. It went as well as we could have hoped for and was very uneventful once we got him on the plane and got him stabilised.
Major Dave Lafrance:
The challenge for us was to see how well the folks at Davis had actually prepared the surface for us and they kind of went so we’ve got to get a plane in, what’s the length that you need and it’s not like you have somebody on station that’s experienced at all the camps at making a proper runway and so, you know, we asked him for as many pictures as possible and I’m envisioning quite a rough surface and it’s going to be quite challenging and I’ll tell you that the folks down there just prepared a great runway for us. It was smooth, it was quite slick but the biggest obstacle for us was making sure the penguins stayed out of our way. [laughter]
They did a fabulous job getting it ready for us and they actually, when we landed, they said, “You only used about a quarter of the runway and we prepared all this runway for you,” and I said, “Don’t worry. Tomorrow we’re taking out very heavy so I’ll use almost all your runway,” and so they did a great job and it made my job a lot easier.
Dr Jeff Ayton:
Firstly, I’d like to say I’m extremely grateful for the efforts of Captain Richards and his team at bringing Dwayne back to Hobart. Dwayne was cared for by the Flying Doctor for 10 days in Antarctica and the lay medical assistants. He has serious injuries but he’s stable and he remains stable and he was stable throughout the flight and this morning at the Royal Hobart Hospital he remains stable. He is being managed in intensive care and will be going to surgery at the earliest opportunity to start surgery on his ankles and feet, which are the most concerning injuries for Dwayne.
The doctor we have down there, Dr Lloyd Fletcher, he is a very experienced doctor. He’s on his eighth winter in Antarctica. He’s a generalist remote medicine doctor and he has done a heroic effort with his lay team in managing Dwayne. Certainly, there are stresses and that those stresses and fatigue are managed with support, tele-medical support, back to the polar medicine unit here and we had four-hourly contacts with the station and the station doctor and the lay medical assistants throughout that period. Of course, it was a huge relief to get the second doctor in at day 10 and some additional medical supplies and then a further relief to have Dwayne safely back in Australia in the early hours of this morning.
The family had an opportunity to see Dwayne at the airport last night at about - just before midnight and I’ve been in contact with the family right throughout the scenario.
Ice core features at Australia's 2020 summit
Ice core features at Australia's 2020 summit
Hon. Michael Jeffrey - Governor-General
Prime Minister, Michael Davis, distinguished guests all, I acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land on which we meet today, their wisdom, enduring history and culture, and I commend the Prime Minister for calling the 2020 summit and inviting this wide cross-section of our society from across the length and the breadth of the land to share ideas, hopes and aspirations. A very warm welcome to you all to the nation’s beautiful capital.
Let me show you something. This ice core retrieved by our internationally-recognised scientists from Australia’s Antarctic Division provides part of a record of human activity on this planet reaching back some 80,000 years. Around the beginning of that period, the first indigenous people arrived here. Alone among the human inhabitants of the planet, they and their descendants stayed and watched the retreat from the Ice Age, the separation of Tasmania from the mainland, the filling of the shallow lakes in Central Australia and then as they slowly dried up.
Indeed, in offering up the secrets of our past, especially the process of climate change, this ice core also informs our present and our future. The connectedness revealed in the ice core between our past and future makes this summit especially timely.
As a nation, we’re facing diverse challenges and opportunities at local, national and global levels and, for the benefit of future generations, we must constantly question the adequacy of continuing with a business-as-usual approach. For example, have we given sufficient attention to the suggestion that, as a planet of six billion people, we are already consuming around 20% more resources than our globe can sustain? What are the implications for nine billion by 2050?
In this, the driest of continents, should we be looking at diverting water from the wetter north of the continent or should we relocate or develop new infrastructure to the north to take advantage of the availability of plentiful water, energy, minerals and space? And what of the fundamental fabric of our society: the family? Can we do more to strengthen the family unit to reduce the very high incidence of family breakup, to better prepare young people for adulthood and to strengthen their sense of social responsibility?
There are many questions that we can ask and, with the goodwill and cooperation of all participants, the conclusions of this summit have the potential to be far reaching in shaping this nation’s long-term future. Indeed, we have a proud record of putting ideas to work to meet the diverse challenges of the nation, including surf lifesaving with half a million lives saved, the Royal Flying Doctor Service assisting more than a quarter of a million patients each year, and the iconic Snowy Mountain Scheme.
Nor should we forget the wisdom of our indigenous people and what we can learn from their capacity to survive major change on this continent, or indeed the wisdom of our founding fathers who gave us our enduring Constitution.
As I move around this country, I’m constantly struck by the ingenuity, innovation and creativity of our fellow Australians in so many fields of endeavour; the arts, science, medicine, agriculture to name but some. So I urge all here to draw inspiration from the many examples of Australian excellence and innovation and to seize this opportunity to go even further, to harness ideas and link them more broadly across disciplines, regions and sectors of our national life.
Well, ladies and gentlemen, your participation in this summit offers the potential to build an even better country, a nation of excellence, a global example, as I often term it. I encourage you, and indeed all Australians, to use the momentum generated through these discussions to be individual and collective ambassadors for a better future. I also urge you to undertake your task here in an open and constructive manner and with a spirit of collegiality, and I ask that these events be faithfully and objectively reported in a positive and constructive way to assist the nation’s understanding of the issues before it.
As our ice core shows, we live in a country with a capacity to understand the past through our own ingenuity. No-one should be in any doubt that we are at an important threshold in terms of the challenges and the opportunities this country faces. I wish you every success in this challenging but exciting task and, with the rest of the nation, look forward to being comprehensively and accurately informed of your conclusions.
All the best and thank you very much.