With advancing medical technology the Australian Antarctic Division’s Polar Medicine Unit is continually reviewing procedures and remote area medical equipment to ensure appropriate medical and emergency care for Australian Antarctic expeditioners. Dr Geoff Couser, the 2002 Mawson’s Hut expedition doctor, trialled a new MRL automatic external defibrillator and heart monitor during the expedition at Commonwealth Bay.
This type of equipment can be used for possible complications of unexpected heart conditions or even the effects of accidental electrocution on the heart. Although not used in anger on this occasion, it was comforting for this small extremely isolated field camp to have available as part of the comprehensive medical kit this small battery powered defibrillator and heart monitor unit. Successful testing occurred at operating temperatures of minus 7°C and storage temperatures as low as minus 24°C. Similar equipment may be used in future Antarctic field operations.