This week we had ideal weather for a search and rescue and walks on Welch Island.

Welch Island

Last Sunday 31st of July, we woke to be greeted by a beautiful day here at Mawson. Beautiful days have been few and far between at Mawson Station the last six weeks or so. We had one a fortnight ago when we decided to go fishing and golfing in Horseshoe Harbour, but this Sunday we thought we would head out to Welch Island which is about 4km NNE of the station.

Every morning we look at this big hump of rock out there while we eat breakfast, so we thought we had better go and take a closer look.

Welch Island is 1.6 km long with a prominent pinnacle rock of 130m, lying north of Rouse Islands and 1.6 km off the shore on the eastern side of Holme Bay. Welch Island was discovered in February 1931 by the British Australian and New Zealand Antarctic Research Expedition (BANZARE) under Sir Douglas Mawson, who named it for B. F. Welch, Second Engineer on the RRS Discovery.

Tony and I found a nice safe place to park the Hägglunds, donned our survival packs and headed up the island for a look around. Tony was particularly fascinated by the rock formations being an amateur geologist and mountaineer. The island is the highest in the area so it provides an awesome place to look north over the sea ice and ice bergs as well as a great view of the station back dropped by the Framnes Mountains. We were able to hang around at the top for a while as we were blessed with a warmish (–23°C) day and basically wind free at about 14 knots. Eventually we had to head back down because Tony was beginning to grumble that he had cold ears!

It was a great little outing… a bit of sun and fresh air really lifts the spirits. We can look forward to far more of this as the days get longer and the temperatures rise slowly but steadily.

LAST training

The final formal piece of search and rescue training that we have to do as a team is the LAST exercise. LAST stands for Locate, Access, Stabilise and Transport and Tony D the field training officer has been plotting the exercise for weeks… 

On Wednesday it is a beautiful day, the sun is shining, no wind and a balmy –16°C, perfect for a walk to West Arm.

After lunch we realise that Tony D is missing and has not returned from his walk to West Arm, we were unable to get hold of him on the radio so we sounded the SAR alarm and mustered the team in the mess.

The Search and Rescue Team Leaders, Josh and Gav quickly got everyone assembled and allocated into roles, and within 15 minutes the first team were heading out onto the sea ice to search West Arm. The ‘lay’ surgical assistants were planning and setting up the medical suite and the search and rescue Hägglunds was being packed and readied to attend as secondary response.

Tony D was found at the bottom of a hill with a suspected broken arm (really he was having a cup of soup and reading his kindle). The team made short work of retrieving him and getting him safely back to station where he could be assessed in the surgery. 

It was a successful exercise and a good opportunity to refresh our knowledge of what to do in the case of a real search and rescue situation. Thank you to everyone involved. 

Thanks for…

This week we have a lot to be thankful for.

  1. No one really slipped on West Arm and needed rescuing!
  2. We had two amazing sunny, almost windless days that reminded us that spring is only a month away.
  3. Our internet bandwidth was increased and iMessage started working!
  4. Our fabulous darts ability, we beat Casey! It was a very close game but the Shanghai in the first game gave us a great kick off.