Sleeping in Crisp Packets…

Another week passes in this strange and wonderful land…

We’ve ‘adapted’ to the Winter lifestyle pretty well now, things have slowed a lot, time to think, time to do the little jobs you’ve had no time for during summer. We cleared out the cold porches of all the unwanted clothing left behind by the summerers, tidied the fancy dress room (yes, we have a fancy dress room….), shut down the summer accommodation and winterised it ready for what’s coming – The temps are dropping now, you walk outside now and you no longer have the ridiculous balmy days of five to ten degrees, we’re now starting to see the minus tens, minus nineteen with wind chills etc. We had our first two days of consistent snow and blizz last week which left a bit of a white blanket over the Vestfolds, not something we’ve seen for a while, we’re all rather used to the thawed out barren & rocky ‘mining camp’ feel about the place.

From an ERT perspective we spent a couple of hours sorting out the Emergency Vehicle Shelter last week so that we have everything ready for any eventuality on, or indeed off station, the Fire and SAR Haggs have been serviced, cleaned up, prepared with the correct equipment and are primed to respond. In terms of training itself I ran a fire scenario last Monday, I had to tell people we were going to run an event on a certain date as we don’t want people getting panicked and leaving machinery on or tripping over and injuring themselves whilst attempting to get to the fire, that wouldn’t be good…So having told them nothing more than ‘an event’ would occur on Monday I was being watched like a hawk all day…At lunchtime I’d stand up and walk out and all eyes would follow me, it was hilarious, everyone was on tender hooks…

After lunch I set off the fire alarm, and gave a radio call about a car crash outside the pump house, one person was trapped in the vehicle unconscious whilst the second vehicle was on fire, the fire was near to one of our auxiliary fuel tanks. The team responded well, person rescued, imaginary fire extinguished and patient ready to be transported within ten minutes…Not bad for a bunch of amateurs…Corey did have a short term imprint of the Toyota steering wheel badge on his forehead for a few hours though…

To add to this, on Wednesday we had a ‘no duff’ fire alarm at the green store – From the initial alarm to building entry, fire hagg arrival to the whole team standing down was six minutes, so we are getting better…

Thursday and Friday of this week saw me having to take out three people into the field to do some survival training, the three people had arrived on the ship to work with us during the Winter and needed to get the low down on the local conditions and how we look after ourselves. Being as we are at the end of Summer there isn’t any sea ice to enable us to get out on quad bikes and /or do any form of ice training specifically at this time so I settled on training them on navigation, clothing, bivvying techniques, cooking, some throw bag work to rescue someone who’d fallen through cracked ice and numerous other bits and bobs. the giant flouro ‘crisp packets’ we use are a bit bigger than your average bivvy but they allow you to get all your gear in with you, last thing you need to be doing is going outside for a pee in minus twenty degrees when you can stay in the bag and go in your pee bottle instead, that is of course if it hasn’t frozen already…Sleeping with a bottle of your own frozen urine in your sleeping back in an attempt to thaw it so you can tip it into a tide crack is an interesting process. The weather those couple of days was generously good to us, it only got down to minus seven that night and the wind held off to a nice five knots.

It’s been a few years since I did any proper outdoor ed coaching so it was nice to get out and take a small group into the hills and watch them learn and enjoy new skills, I can’t think of many other comms jobs that would allow me to be doing this during my working week!

Today being Sunday myself, Alyce and Sarah headed up to Law Cairn for a look round and the chance to get offsite for a walk, it turned out to be a bit of a nature trip, some Weddell seals, a few estranged penguins and some random ice balancing on a beach made for a good day out. I think the best part was discovering that one of the remote cameras we’d placed out in the field to monitor an area calls Adams Flat is now being huddled around by a group of young Adelies who seem to have taken to it as a monolithic place of worship, When I spotted all of them in front I decided to take a look at the cameras shots, the camera takes pics four times a day on a timed shutter and stores data over a six month period, seems like our little friends have been treating this camera as a member of their family for nearly a month now….

Until next time, cheers from down South

Stu

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