On the evening of October 20, an expeditioner of the Australian Antarctic Division (AAD) was injured at Davis station in Antarctica. The injured expeditioner was identified as 31 year old Dwayne Rooke from Devonport, Tasmania. He was working as chef for almost 12 months and was due to return to Australia in mid-November. Though first aid and necessary medical treatment was provided, his condition was serious but stable as he suffered multiple fractures. He was required to be evacuated for specialist medical care in Australia. Finally he was medevacked by an U.S aircraft on November 05 after two weeks of his injury.
Here are the interesting features of medevac operations:
- Dwayne Rooke came off a quad bike while he was on a field trip to Trajer Ridge, around 25 km from Davis. He was given first aid on the spot and was transported back to the station by Hagglunds overland vehicle.
- On October 23, an Australian Antarctic research and resupply ship Aurora Australis (picture above right) on port of call to Casey station was diverted to Davis for evacuation. The ship was more than 800 nautical miles from Davis and was expected to reach Davis station in 4 or 5 days.
- Also, Davis station personnel started preparing a temporary sea-ice runway of 3000 metres long on 1.8 metres thick ice, to meet further emergency operations.
- Meanwhile by October 27, heavy sea ice and bad weather slowed down the ships approach to Davis station. The ship was then expected to be in the helicopter range of the station by October 29. Thereafter, a doctor and lay medical personnel from the ship were planning to fly to Davis to assist with the medical care of Rooke (picture on the right).
- On October 30, when the ship was within helicopter range of Davis station, weather conditions in the morning prevented helicopter operations. The ship was approximately 230 nautical miles from Davis and a helicopter flight from the ship to the station was to take about two hours.
- Weather further deteriorated and even on October 31, the helicopter could not be launched.The Aurora Australis was approximately 150 nautical miles from Davis and continued her approach to Davis station. The ship was by then at the helicopter range of over one hour flight from the ship to the station.
- On November 01, two helicopters were flown with a doctor and additional lay medical staff to Davis station to provide additional medical care to Dwayne Rooke. The medical team started preparations for evacuation of Dwayne Rooke.
- As taking Dwayne Rooke by ship to Australia would take much more time, on November 05, LC-130 Hercules military aircraft from the United States Antarctic Program, assisted the evacuation from Antarctica. Injured Dwayne Rooke was was medevacked on a 10 hour flight to hospital in Hobart, Tasmania. A combined US and Australian medical team was on board to assist in the evacuation.
- The U.S LC-130 Hercules aircraft (picture on the right):
- is a turbo-prop, ski-equipped aircraft used by the United States Antarctic program.
- the primary purpose of the LC-130 aircraft is to support the US scientific community in the Antarctic by transporting cargo and personnel.
- the LC-130 aircraft are equipped with fully retractable skis that allow the aircraft to land on snow and ice as well as on traditional runways.
- The aircraft has provisions for using jet-assisted-takeoff rockets, four on each side of the aircraft, that are used when the LC-130 operates from rough, unprepared snow surfaces or when shorter takeoff runs are needed.
OldSailor appreciates the team work and dedication of Davis station personnel, the crew of Australian Antarctic research and resupply ship Aurora Australis and the U.S team for the evacuation efforts.
You can view Davis station through webcam from here.
Here is a video clip of Davis station, Antarctica.
All the above three photographs are from Australian Antarctic Division and read more about the rescue operations from Australian Antarctic Division.
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