Summer station leader Bill De Bruyn details the extensive training expeditioners undergo before they are able to depart for Antarctica.

Training for Antarctica

This week we experienced the annual changing of the Davis crew as the hard working winter team of last season departed station following the traditional handover. It was sad to see the outgoing team leave but very exciting for the new crew to take residence for the upcoming year.

After the Aurora Australis pulled out of harbour, some 81 people remain at Davis. These expeditioners comprise of the experienced, who had been to Antarctica previously, and a bunch of brand new ‘expos'. Scientists, trades, pilots, engineers, chefs and other support staff make up the summer team.

Before any new team members board the Aurora Australis for the two week voyage from Hobart to Davis and head down to Antarctica, considerable training must be undertaken to ensure that each expeditioner has the skills to be certain of their safety and well-being on station. Training can vary in length from a week to up to three months and is mostly undertaken at the Australian Antarctic Division in Kingston, Tasmania. This vital teaching helps to bond the team for the year ahead and consists of various facets and may relate to trades, science, boating, fire fighting, quad bike training, medical and many other subjects including environmental, communication and how to get on with each other.

Expeditioners get to learn a range of fascinating things. What an experience during a science lecture to see and hold 60,000 year old ice core samples!

It is very important to train expeditioners in many fields, especially roles like the fire team and lay surgical assistants to the doctor. It is easy to forget there are no emergency service agencies we can call at Davis, and the station must provide its own emergency response capability including fire fighting. After completing training, which varies depending on what role an expeditioner undertakes on station, we boarded for Davis and the start of our journey.

We look forward to sharing our experiences with everyone over the coming months.

Bill De Bruyn, Station Leader, Davis Summer