This week at Casey survival training hits full speed while the techs are busy updating and repairing back at station.

Survival training

This season’s survival training is well underway at Casey. Survival training is conducted by our Field Training Officers (FTOs) who are extremely experienced in Antarctic travel and survival. All expeditioners need to be qualified in survival to ensure that if required, they can take steps to protect themselves and others from the severe Antarctic elements, until assistance arrives.

Training consists of navigation tuition, sea ice testing and preparing shelters. During the training, several enormous icebergs have been spotted off the coast, which compliment the beautiful views from the Bailey Peninsula.

Expeditioners also spent a night camped out in a bivvy bag as part of the training, in order to replicate an emergency situation. This week the survival training team put extra effort into their shelter by creating a crooked but sturdy igloo. The whole team contributed to its construction, the only issue being the inaccuracy of the snow block sizes — caused by the absence of a tape measure. What the igloo lacked in external visual appeal, it more than made up for in the beautiful blue light that was transmitted through the snow blocks, which lit up the inside.

A few things in Comms this week

Cell phones, cell phones, cell phones – with so many new people arriving on station it’s been rather chaotic trying to get everyone connected to the GSM network this week.

Normally the GSM base station would detect the arrival of any new phones within its range and automatically add them to the network, grant them a phone number and even let the user know that number all without the intervention of a comms technician… However, this hasn’t been the case this week as it would appear that the base station has been a bit grumpy and all the phones have had to be added to the system manually by Calum back at Kingston (thanks again Calum!) while the comms techs at this end call random phone numbers to try and work out who is now registered… Sorry, are you still with me?

You may wonder of course why we would want to set up a GSM base station in Antarctica. Well one of the main functions is to send text messages to the ‘on–call’ people to inform them of any system alarms for any misbehaving equipment around station, this is a great improvement over the old method of using pagers, especially when most of the pagers we have on station have now been through the washing machine at least a few times each.

Having cell phones on station does however bring with it the other side of life that for years has been amiss on Antarctic stations, and that is the image of people walking around staring into their phones a great deal of the time. Don’t forget to look up and appreciate the icebergs people!

The workshop printer

The workshop printer is a lonely beast, he lives at the other end of the station in the big yellow cave with all the tradies who tend to not respect his delicate nature. He finally had enough this week and coughed up some black dust and started putting strange lines all over everyone’s crossword puzzles, so the comms team were asked to enter the cave and see why he was unwell.

On inspection we found that the tradies had been trying to treat the printer as one of their own and as such had been feeding him soot and diesel to try and keep him happy — unfortunately they weren’t to know that printers don’t like to eat soot and this is the reason for him feeling slightly less than ideal.

The tradies sadly said goodbye to their less than healthy friend yesterday, he was carefully manhandled into a vehicle and eventually transferred to the comms ward where we duly set about transplanting various bits of his diesel soaked innards in the hope that we could return him to health. The workshop printer is currently under observation and we hope to bring you news of his recovery very soon. In the meantime we ask the tradies to be kind to the science printer, which is on loan and is very, very clean… well, for now!