A view of Davis medical facilities, Trajer melon and classic auroras.

The Medical facility at Davis

This month it is my pleasure to give you an overview of the medical facility at Davis.

The current building was dedicated on 7th August 1987 by the Prime Minister of Australia the Right Honourable Mr. R.J.L. Hawke “as part of the Australian Antarctic station rebuilding programme, these facilities will ensure the continued safe and efficient conduct of Australia’s programme in Antarctica“.

The facility’s main rooms are the consultation room, treatment room, ward, operating theatre and an attached dental suite. There are spaces in each room dedicated to specific areas e.g. microbiology, haematology, biochemistry, radiology, pharmacy and storage of surgical supplies and sterilisation. The Doctor’s donga (bedroom) is 10 meters down the corridor attached by phone and alarm systems, so I’m never far away should action be required.

Doc Mal.

Those much appreciated pair of hands

The lay medical / surgical team provide an essential component of medical care in an emergency arising in the Antarctic. They are expected to assist in the care and moral support of the patient. They are also involved in the clinical observations and preparation of investigations and readiness of the operating theatre. In the operating theatre they have designated roles i.e. scrub nurse, scout nurse, anaesthetic assistant and orderly. This facilitates a smooth procedure should the need arise.

This winter, we have Tim (Chippy), Aaron (Dieso), Richard (Comms) and Paul (Plumber) as our lay medical team. These men have had pre-departure training at Royal Hobart Hospital where a familiarisation of operating theatre procedures and etiquette is provided. While on station I have conducted regular exercises and meetings to maintain familiarity and confidence in the skills acquired.  The team has performed really well and been exactly the appreciated pair of hands I need.

Overnight at old Trajer melon for the last time

Some say the melon at Trajer Ridge has been there since 1990, some say it was relocated to there in 1990, and yet with all the notes written up in the melon, there is still one entry in the log book that has a date from 1989. So what is the true history of Trajer melon? This is just one of the many questions that are thrown around inside the hut on the last night the old hut is expected to host visitors from Davis. This year, the melon is due for replacement as its structure is starting to show the wear and tear of being in one of the wind tunnels of the Vestfolds known as Trajer Ridge. Irrespective of when it was put in place, it has done a superb 23 years (or so) of service for the many from Davis that have dropped in for a visit. The hut is being emptied of all its finery and comforts this week in preparation for the works program. We look forward to visiting the new look Trajer Melon.

A week of active auroras

This year being the peak of the 11-year solar cycle, we have had periods of intensive solar activity and here at Davis that means lively auroras in the night sky. Several of the crew have taken on the mantel of the dedicated aurora enthusiasts and braved the small hours of the mornings to chase that elusive ‘perfect’ shot.

This week saw several days of extraordinary activity that thrilled the photographic pundits. Lots of lively comparing of notes and photos ensued around the morning coffees (more than usual), and the chase continues as some are still not convinced they have the photo they want. It is always an impressive sight, and sometimes it is best to just watch it without the camera.