Find out what our our ‘lay surgical assistants’ do in their ‘normal’ duties, some windy weather blows sea ice back out.

Introducing the Casey LSAs

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).

Chris (Carpenter)

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!

Andrew (Chef)

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 

5 minutes with the Casey 70th ANARE crew: Mark Grainger

Name:  Mark Grainger

From:  Tassie

Previous seasons: Davis winter 2002, Davis round-trip 2010, Casey winter 2012

Job title:

Bureau of Meteorology technical officer (Engineering), also known as ‘met tech’.

Describe your role in two sentences:

Maintaining a broad range of equipment and systems for BoM plus CSIRO, IPS/SWS and the AAD aviation automatic weather station (AWS) network.

I’m also rostered for BoM weather observations and radiosonde balloon releases.

What did you do before your joined the AAD:

I’m a met tech for BoM in Tasmania and still a BoM employee while in Antarctica.

What are your favourite parts of your job here at Casey?

The amazing location and releasing weather balloons.

If you were not a met tech what would be your dream job?

I love nature and working in interesting places so field biology or maybe BBC wildlife film crew, although my first passion and career choice was aviation and I still love flying.

How does this season at Casey compare to your previous seasons down south?

My first winter (2002) was great and this season is on par.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

Sled hauling, anywhere off- station. Darts and 8-ball for indoor social activity.

What song sums up your Casey experience so far?

Four seasons in one day by Crowded House…and not because I work for the weather bureau.

What actor would play you in a film version of our 70th ANARE season here at Casey?

Steven Spielberg — keeping busy behind the camera and occasionally appearing in front.

What are your favourite field huts and why?

Wilkes is excellent, a spacious hut with a lot of history and character.

Jack’s is compact but comfortable. It’s a converted four-berth donga very similar to my first Antarctic accommodation experience. Plus it has the best outdoor dunny with an awesome view.

Favourite piece of Australian Antarctic Division kit?

Canada Goose jacket

Favourite piece of personal kit?

Neoprene gumboots

What is your favourite movie and why?

It’d be something sci-fi but there are so many great films to choose from.

A favourite non-sci-fi movie is ‘Grand Budapest Hotel’.

What is your typical ‘Slushy FM’ genre? Do you have a particular favourite?

I’ve been a Triple JJJ listener for a long time so ‘hottest 100’ and ‘like a version’ feature strongly, mixed with some classics from the last few decades.

Describe your Casey experience with: a sight, a smell, a sound, a feeling and a taste.

The view of the coast from the plateau and especially the welcoming lights of Casey when returning late in the day.

The smell of Shirley Island penguin guano on a westerly breeze.

The sound of the red shed HVAC system, especially at night.

The solitude when doing the late weather obs, especially on a calm night.

The best home brew (S3 or AA).

Do you have a favourite quote that you’d like to leave us with?

When all else fails, read the instructions.

My Casey in pictures: Ashleigh Wilson

This week Bureau of Meteorology Observer, Ashleigh Wilson shares us some of her beautiful photos from the season so far.

Station update

After the excitement of mid-winter refuelling last week, this week returned to business as usual on station.

At the end of last week we had strong south-easterly winds for two days — a less common wind direction for station, which resulted in some large bliz tails in unusual places.  A break in the weather on Saturday morning had everyone out on machines and shovels to clear these ahead of a forecast ‘Hundinger’ of a weather system expected to arrive Saturday afternoon.

Fortuitously it blew in at around 8 pm on Saturday evening, by which we were all ‘nicely buttoned up’. The winds topped out at 90 kts rather than the forecast 100kts, and by late Saturday morning had dropped to a nice breeze under 20 kts.

As a result of this interesting weather some of the sea ice to the south blew out, but happily all of the sea ice within our travel limits has held in there. Fingers crossed for a weekend of good weather here as many of us are itching to get out of the red shed!

Jacque Comery SL