The LSA. Not a healthy mix of nuts and seeds to add to your breakfast. We’re talking about the Lay Surgical Assistant; a role give to four lucky (or unlucky? you’ll have to ask them) Antarctic winterers. Assistants to the solo wintering doctor (me) in a medical situation when two hands are not enough.
During pre-departure training in Hobart, the LSAs spend eight days at the Royal Hobart Hospital with specialist anaesthetics, senior nurses and surgeons, learning the basic tricks and tools of the trade including how to find their way around an anaesthetic machine, the operating theatre and the meticulous art of scrubbing, gowning and gloving for an operation. A unique experience for anyone non-medical; and something medical students and junior doctors alike would be incredibly envious of.
Let me introduce my skilled, talented and manly LSA team (according to my recent station news interview — thanks Linc).
Laid back and unsuspecting. Turn around for a minute and next thing you know Chris has made a couple of tables, a few chairs, several types of bottle opener and carved a penguin out of a chunk of glacial ice. Chris is a seasoned LSA who knows his way around an anaesthetic machine and has a few ‘at Davis’ stories.
Linc (Met Observer)
Linc has always wanted to be called a ‘nurse’. So much so that he has his very own nurses outfit. Due to his late arrival at the end of summer, he was limited in what luggage he could bring so (thankfully) the outfit didn’t make it to Casey this season. Much to his disappointment, he now has no choice but to wear scrubs for LSA sessions. I would ask what he thought was more important to pack than his nurses outfit, but I am not sure any of us wants to know the answer to that question.
Also a seasoned LSA, Linc’s favourite pastime is memorising things I say so that they can be used out of context at a later date for general amusement.
Clint (Comms Tech)
Clint: Comms Tech, Guardian of the Chilcotts, Hydroponics Coordinator, Sewing Monitor, Air Sampler, Penguin Camera Monitor, Flag Monitor and LSA. I’m sure I’ve missed a few roles as well. Watching Clint as a surgical assistant, you could be forgiven for thinking that he had been doing it for years. Is there anything this man can’t do?
Conscientious and uncomplaining, Clint could work for 48 hours straight without sitting down or having a toilet break and still ask if you needed a hand with anything. Thankfully we are all about fatigue management at the AAD and would never do that to you Clint!
The chef is generally agreed as ‘the most important person on station’, also skilled with a sharp blade and several other tools. LSA practice extends to the kitchen at times when, struggling to cut tomatoes with a blunt knife, I hand it off to Andrew and am returned with a freshly sharpened blade a few seconds later. What better person to have as a surgical assistant?!
An excellent group of right and left hand men, thanks team!
Dr Elise Roberts