This week at Davis saw the completion of the station handover from the 72nd ANARE Wintering team of 2019 to the incoming 73Nd ANARE with a mixture of short term projects, Summer expeditioners and the Wintering team of 2020 who all together make Davis station a vibrant and ever changing community. When you break it down, in the last few weeks each of us has moved home, sailed (or flown) to Antarctica, started a new job and completely changed our immediate groups of friends, any one of those would be a big change, but down here — it’s just how the season kicks-off!
Before the season can get truly get underway there are a number of critical capabilities and roles we need to establish and test. These range from checking our fleet of vehicles to make sure they are safe and ready for the busy workload ahead, but most importantly, we need to make sure all expeditioners are trained and ready to handle any situation the remote environments of Antarctica might throw at them.
For starters, there is no fire brigade down here and before we left Hobart a number of the expeditioners were trained in firefighting, so we started the season with a fire drill and an opportunity for the fire team to throw on their gear and test their skills in the cold, a great success! Stay tuned for more on the Davis Fire Brigade in a future issue of Icy News…
Under the watchful eyes of our station doctor and ever vigilant Senior Field Training Officer the next capability we put to the test was our search and rescue response. This involves a number of expert search and rescue personnel assisted by expeditioners who are trained up to assist in the technical and complex rescue techniques and equipment used in remote area rescue in Antarctica, with the amount of insulation and warm clothing required to keep a patient warm when immobilized it was sometimes hard to see our volunteer in the stretcher! But she survived and was more than confident in the care received from our response team.
Finally we were ready to get going with the season’s various activities, ranging from ongoing scientific research into Antarctic seabirds as well as some interesting benthic ecology (yeah, I had to google that too). The infrastructure teams have also been busy unpacking containers and pallet loads of new materials to continue the never ending task of keeping Davis in tip-top condition for the years ahead.
There was also a quick opportunity for some Antarctic Diplomacy as we once again welcomed the Chinese Antarctic Program’s Basler aircraft back to Davis to transport a few of our expeditioners to Casey Station and onwards to Australia, this time though, a delegation from the Chinese government were on board and jumped at the opportunity to get out and have a look at the always well prepared Davis sea ice ski landing area (a runway groomed on top of the sea ice), before boarding their aircraft and flying off in a haze of snow….
All that in one week! A big thank you to the team of the 72nd ANARE and all those before us, it’s our pleasure to now call Davis home and continue the legacy and spirit of the Australian Antarctic Program.
David Knoff, Davis station leader