Last week the Casey wintering group got together for the pre–winter search and rescue (SAR) exercise. Twenty of the 23 strong wintering crew (the other three are still at Wilkins), took part in a mock scenario of searching for a missing person. This is potentially our biggest emergency response situation that can happen on station and are critical skills that have been needed and have been put into practice in previous years.
We started with a muster to coordinate our search, which was run by station leader Paul with communications by Clint, who together, directed the teams on their search areas and how it would work. The field training officers had hidden our fantastic volunteer casualty Linda, somewhere on station for us to find.
The exercise commenced with a station building search – checking every bedroom, plant room, gym, ANARESAT, even the sauna. Less than 20 people ‘cleared’ the buildings in under 17 minutes! A challenge to beat in winter with snow everywhere.
With no luck finding Linda, we then moved on to extensively search the surrounding land, which is a substantial amount of the station when you’re on foot. We searched down to the waters edge, up to the top of Reeves Hill, from the Magnetic quiet zones, all the way out to the old station where luckily Linda was waiting for us to find her!
Station leader Paul coordinated to have a team respond to Linda, bringing anything we needed to apply first aid, and take her back to the medical quarters in the Antarctic form of a limousine — a rescue stretcher strapped into the back of the SAR Hägg.
The LSA’s (lay surgical assistants), and Doctor met us at the medical cold porch, where we transported our ‘patient’ Linda inside to them on a stretcher.
The whole exercise took nearly two hours, and taught us how important simple things like turning tags on the fire board, good radio communications, and to ensure you are safe and warm when you're outside in the elements!
Great practice for a skill we all hope we never have to use.