Searching, measuring, and feasting this week at Casey.
What a busy week, the time has just flown as we’ve undertaken a hectic timetable of training, field activities (including our first hesitant steps out onto the sea ice for the winter), and a fabulous evening of feasting in the Casey ‘Castle’.
Searching. Our Search and Rescue (SAR) scenario, late last week, was highly successful. We had previously briefed the sound and light search technique which facilitates finding a conscious but immobile person lost in the dark; a set search pattern and routine conducted by each team using a combination of whistles and torches and looking and listening.
So, with the SAR alarm sounded our search teams were quickly assembled and sent out into the dark winter night to find our lost ‘victim’, Jason. Looking out across the station from the front of the Red Shed it was most satisfying to see the lights flashing and hear the whistles blowing down in the quarry and across Thala Valley towards the wharf. Within 30 minutes our lost person was lost no more; certainly proving the effectiveness of the technique in such circumstances. Jason was then bundled up, and returned to the medical centre, where Catz and her Lay Surgical Assistants (Patty, Al, Scotty and Macca) took the opportunity to move into a full surgical scenario. Jason dozed away while being prepped for an operation and then given a faux-splenectomy into the late hours of the evening.
All in all, a great opportunity to prove the effectiveness of our SAR and surgical teams as we move into our long winter where we need to be comfortable in our self-sufficiency.
Measuring. Casey’s sea ice is quite variable and less predictable than our other Australian Antarctic stations, so after watching and waiting with eager anticipation it was finally time this week to send the team out onto the ice to take our first measurements of the season. Pre-season measurements are conducted with dry-suits donned, roped up explorations with carefully judged steps, and the rescue-alive platform ready for rapid deployment should the lead person fall through the ice. No need for concern though, our access routes onto the ice around station have been measured and not found wanting. The thicknesses proved good enough for foot and quad bike travel, so the next step is to measure across O’Brien Bay and then, all going well, all the way to Robbos so that first sea ice route can be opened for travel. The opening of these routes for our expeditioners is a great thing, opening up our station operation area for further exploration and incredible experiences that can really only be had in Antarctica. Moving across the sea ice is a highlight of our Antarctic experience that everyone has been looking forward to.
And, so we come to the feasting. The fantastic props team of Casey station came to the fore this week to create a medieval castle banqueting hall for our feast on Saturday evening. When night fell a motley crew of lords, ladies, knights, vikings, peasants, barbarians and even a hunchback and a dragon moved across our drawbridge into a mess festooned with candles and heraldic banners to enjoy a fabulous meal prepared by Dom and our dieso scullery maids (in charge of the ‘rosted pigge’). After dinner, a knightly tournament of jousting was enjoyed by all… except perhaps by the loser of each round who spent a little time in the stocks to consider their poor performance.
Not really sure how we can improve on this for the midwinter festivities, but the props department and party planners are already concocting plans to surpass it for our key social event of the winter calendar. (Ideas welcome in return for an invite to join us!)
Winter really is coming… party planners prepare.
By Rebecca, Casey Station Leader