In October 1999 at Mawson Station an expeditioner was involved in a serious accident. She had driven into an unsuspected crevasse on an All-Terrain Vehicle, and fell some five metres before being pinned between the crevasse wall and the vehicle. Serious abdominal injuries were sustained which required two major surgical procedures and three weeks of intensive care. Nicolas Mortimer, Garry Watson, Madeleine Wilcock and Andrew Reinke were all members of the Search and Rescue and Medical team led by the Station Medical Officer.
Mr Watson was the “first response” person and descended on a rope to secure the patient for rescue. Dr Wilcock revived the patient and was responsible for major abdominal surgery. Dr Wilcock displayed great courage and extraordinary ability in the management of this remarkably difficult case. She was assisted by the medical team of Mr Reinke, Mr Watson and Mr Mortimer. The patient need 24 hour a day intensive monitoring by this team for eight days after the accident. Complications then developed requiring further surgery and intensive care.
The dedication and commitment to 24 hour care by a group of people unfamiliar with such activity was truly outstanding. The team had been practising for an event unlikely to happen; however when it did, in the best traditions of emergency management, they performed above and beyond the care of duty. The rescue, resuscitation, diagnosis, operation and further management which resulted in a seriously injured person being ultimately brought back to Australia alive is a great feat and a tribute to the doctor and medical team.