Exercise "Wandering Expo" tests Casey's emergency response

Lose an expo, keep your cool - search and rescue on station

This week’s news continues on the theme of Casey station’s transition from the 74th to the 75th ANARE season, and what needs to be achieved for the station to become self-sufficient and fully operational.

Once handed over to the incoming wintering team, the station adopts an ‘operational recess’ period which temporarily ceases high-risk or field-oriented activities. This recess gives new station personnel time to learn how to respond to crises, such as fires, search and rescue (SAR) scenarios, injured expeditioners, accidental fuel spills… or if the proverbial hits the fan, a combination of these.

This week we unleashed Casey’s Incident Management Team (IMT) onto the station. The IMT is responsible for planning station-wide responses to emergencies, as well as putting the station through its paces with various test scenarios.

Enter exercise “Wandering Expo”: a person is reported missing from station. For the purposes of the exercise this person was played by one of our Field Training Officers (FTOs), as they apparently get lost all the time! Once the IMT was formed and the situation understood, a muster was called via the all-station SAR alarm. Heads were counted, search teams were formed, orders were delivered and preparations made.

Our station doctors and lay surgical assistants (expeditioners trained to assist with surgery) prepared for all possible contingencies – a broken limb, hypothermia, maybe even open heart surgery! Our specialised SAR team also had to ready themselves for the worst, such as going over cliffs for a vertical rescue, but started their search just with a dispatch beyond station limits – gotta crawl before you can run! And of course, the remainder of the station was kept informed as developments arose.

Once ready, the ‘search hounds’ were released to scour station buildings and the immediate environs. With a few well-timed situational updates, coupled with eagle eyes, our missing FTO was eventually located, triaged and recovered back to station.

With the IMT exercise complete and all requirements met, the recess period was lifted and Casey’s 75th ANARE season commenced.

P.S. No expeditioners were harmed in the making of this story.

-Dave Buller, Station Leader