A seriously ill Antarctic expeditioner made it back to safety in Hobart on Friday on Australia’s icebreaker, Aurora Australis, following two week trip home from Davis station.
The man was part of the station’s trades team and due to spend the winter in Antarctica when he became ill. Australian Antarctic Division chief medical officer, Dr Jeff Ayton, said the man remains in a serious but stable condition and has been transferred to the Royal Hobart Hospital by ambulance, the last step in a 5000km journey.
Dr Ayton said telemedicine played a critical role in caring for the man.
“On the return journey home, across the inhospitable Southern Ocean, caring for the man was a challenge as the ship was a constant moving platform. All have done a great job in keeping him as safe and comfortable as possible,” he said.
Voyage leader, Andy Cianchi, said when the Aurora Australis turned back to Davis for the medical evacuation it was a huge logistical effort to get the transfer done in a small weather window.
“The weather was snowing lightly and around minus 10 degrees but we were able to pick a window between snow showers to get the patient into the helicopter and onto the ship,” Mr Cianchi said. “Once we had the patient aboard it took us a couple of days to slowly break through the sea ice near Davis before finally making it out into the open Southern Ocean.
“The passage back was quite rough at times with wind gusts up to 60 knots, and a 6-7m swell causing the vessel to roll heavily.”
The Aurora Australis left Hobart at the end of January to resupply Mawson and retrieve expeditioners from Davis station. It will now be restocked and refuelled for the last voyage of the season to Macquarie Island on Monday.
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