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Field Safety and Logistics

Preventing Emergencies

Polar Regions Safety

What to Take

Raytheon Antarctic Logistics

VECO Arctic Logistics

Preventive Search and Rescue Education (PSAR)

Mike Ables, WEMT, Field Operations Supervisor
University of Alaska, Fairbanks, Alaska

Notes also taken from 2000/2001 Orientation discussion with Frank Willingham (Ilisagvik College, Barrow, Alaska).

PREVENTATIVE is the key term. Be aware and pro-active so that problems do not develop!

Often folks create their own problems - Why people get into trouble:
  • traveling too fast and too far from modern service
  • ignoring weather change signs and local hazards
  • ignoring body problem signs in quest of goals
  • traveling to unfamiliar locale only half prepared to sustain life
  • not being acclimatized to the outdoors (it can be great fun, but you have to be aware and prepared!)
  • Ask your PI about the conditions in which you will be working. What do you need to have in terms of training, clothing, equipment, safety gear? What will be provided?
  • Antarctic - much of what you need is provided through Raytheon Polar Services Company.
  • Arctic - you will be responsible for many of your materials with some assistance from VECO.
  • Always remember that you are a member of a group. You are responsible for your own safety and for keeping an eye on the others in your group. Be aware. Know the signs of hypothermia in yourself and in others. Be aware when you are struggling or straggling behind and when others are doing the same. Take Action!

    Staying safe is the first goal of anyone on a research experience.

    Common excuses that result in Search and Rescue:
  • "It can't happen to me!"
  • "I can't afford the equipment."

    Emergency rescue missions have to be launched because of a number of reasons. Commonly there are several components that contribute to the necessity of a rescue operation. The common breakdowns that occur:

    Problem: Lack of sleep.
    Leads to impairment in making decisions and using equipment.

    Solution: make sure you are sufficiently rested.

    Problem: Lack of fluid.
    Leads to fatigue, illness, frostbite, hypothermia.

    Solution: Drink lots of WATER (do not substitute other fluids!).

    Problem: Improper clothing.
    Leads to illness, frostbite, hypothermia.

    Solution: Good clothing is an investment in good health.

    Problem: Itinery not known to others.
    Leads to delay in search and rescue if one is needed; leads to unnecessary waste of human time and energy and resources if a search and rescue is not needed.

    Solution: Let someone know where you are at all times
    Find out what the procedure is to check in and out of where you are - follow the procedure!

    Problem: Cannot recognize the potential problems and threats physically, mentally, or environmentally (e.g., weather changing quickly).
    Leads to trouble!! Folks are moving too fast; this is their window to do research and it is far, far too short!

    Solution: Stay healthy and well rested so that your reasoning skills are sharp.
    Acquaint yourself with the hazards by talking with your team and the team coordinator, the safety and logistics representatives at the station.
    Acquire the proper training.

    Problem: Too ambitious an undertaking for the level of skill proficiency.

    Leads to accidents for those directly involved and others involved in potential rescue.
    Solution: Get into shape; be aware when to stop, "just say no" when necessary.
    Get training for the tasks you are undertaking.

    Problem: Little or no planning , inadequate preparation, inadequate party for goal; lack of leadership
    Leads to trouble!!

    Solution: adequate preparation and forethought. Clear definition of the "chain of command" in the research team. Work with your team to define this.

    Field Safety Orientation
    Purpose: The following discussion is designed to guide the TEA in asking questions of their PI and research team.

    Who is the Leader of the Expedition?
  • A manageable span-of-control for a leader is 3-7 people; How many people are on the project?
  • Note that even though there is (should be) a clear chain of command, every individual is responsible for themselves and each other. Pay attention to your safety and the safety of others.
  • What are the assignments for the individuals?
  • The work and safety plans should be written and well defined.
  • Who is in charge of day-to-day operations? Who is second in charge?

  • What are the Lines of Communication
  • Compile a list of emergency phone numbers and make sure everyone who needs one has a copy.
  • Learn what equipment is going to be used and learn how to use it.
  • Develop a contact schedule and keep it.
  • Determine who makes the decision about what help is needed and when (e.g., when to initiate search and rescue, decision of transport of a patient versus in-situ treatment).

  • What is the Emergency Medical Plan?
  • Medical training; consider taking a CPR class or emergency medical class to learn how to stabilize and "fix" people in a remote rescue situation. "Wilderness First Responder Class" is one such opportunity.

  • What is the Evacuation Plan?
  • The Antarctic safety system is well defined.
  • The Arctic is less defined, but becoming that way - often these aspects are up to the individual team.
  • Know what EMS systems are available. Where are you calling for help? How do you help the help get to you?
  • Field equipment needed to transport a victim to the EMS system must be available for use at all times.
  • Be aware how the EMS system works. How will the individual be transported? Will a helicopter be the carrier? How much space is there? Who can go? What else can be taken out?

  • A Few Thoughts on First Aid Kits
  • Rule Number 1: Take one.
  • What is in it depends on what you are doing - have a discussion about this and act on the decisions!
  • Check with your team members to make sure you are not duplicating what they have already.

  • Preparing the Survival Kit ..... Don't Leave Camp Without It!
  • Specifically what you take depends on where you are going, your objectives, and how long you will be there.
    This kit is to keep you safe in the event of an emergency or change in plans. Your kit should have some form of APPROPRIATE:
  • shelter material
  • singnal equipment
  • fire starter
  • tools
  • food and water
  • navigation aid

  • Safety Courses
  • What safety courses will I receive through Raytheon or VECO?
  • What other course should I consider taking before I go into the field?
  • CPR
  • first aid
  • field survival training
  • aircraft safety class
  • fire arms and bear safety class

  • Transportation
  • Note that the modes of transportation will be very different from home - BIG trucks, boats, skidoos, sprytes, etc.
  • Acquire training in whatever mode of transport you are using.
  • Learn how to fix the basic components (changing tires, fixing fan belts) and how to properly fuel the system (some require special gas mixtures) ..... AAA may take some time to get to you ..... like never .....
  • Make sure you have a stocked tool kit and the necessary spare parts.
  • Know where the paths are for your parcticular mode of travel - stick to the appropriate roads, ski paths, boating lanes.

  • Wildlife
  • Polar bears can run faster, swim faster, and think that anything that moves is fair game for dinner. If you are in Polar Bear territory, your research team will be covered appropriately.
  • Marine mammals are protected. Don't disturb or make plans to take home - whole or in parts.
  • Note that many of the arctic foxes have rabies.
  • Mesquitos are a concern inland. Take a head net if you are there between July and August.
  • Do not touch domestic dogs.

  • Polar Regions Safety


    Greek Hypo (under) and thermia (temperature); a condition of the body when it is unable to maintain adequate warmth, and operating therefore at subnormal temperatures.

    You lose heat from your body five ways:

    Radiation - movement of heat from hot object to cold object.
    Your uncovered head can radiate 50% or more of a body's heat!

    Respiration With normal breathing, warm air passes into the lungs; exhaling to the atmosphere removes body heat.
    Inhaling cold air can affect body temperature.
    Use face masks or pull-up your neck-gator to pre-warm the air.

    Convection - movement of a fluid (air) carrying heat from one area to another.
    Use an outer layer of windproof garments.
    Use an inner insulated layer to keep the warmth near your body.

    Conduction - direct transmission of heat from a warmer to a colder object.
    Wear layers between you and the cold things you are touching.
    Even light gloves work!
    Remember that wet clothes act as a wick.

    Evaporation - conversation of a liquid to a gas causes cooling.
    Keep water out of your layers of clothing.

    Initial Signs of Hypothermia - Mild to Moderate
  • Shivering, foot stomping.
  • The "umbles" - the hypothermia victim "mumbles" and "fumbles" and "stumbles."
  • Loss of coordination.
  • Confusion.
  • Withdrawing from the group, falling behind.

  • Prevent further heat loss.
  • Get the victim warm; add layers, move in doors, stay with them.
  • Offer a hot drink - IF they can hold it and drink it by themselves, let them. If they cannot hold and drink it by themselves, DO NOT force them.
  • Get the victim into a sleeping bag with another person - no layers of clothing between.
  • You can intervene and reverse hypothermia when it is at this level. Beyond this, outside medical assistance is needed.
  • DO NOT give alcohol!

    As hypothermia progresses, the victim gets sleepy and the pulse slows.

    Frostnip / Frostbite
  • Frostbite is the freezing of fluids and skin.
  • Hypothermia or contact with cold service can lead to frostbite.
  • Initially see a reddening of the skin and may have tingling in exposed regions.
  • More advanced stages result in numbness and blotchy white or gray skin.
  • Progressive stages, skin turns black with blisters and there is no feeling.

    Causes of frostnip/frostbite:
  • Inadequate insulation from the cold or wind.
  • Restricted circulation from tight clothing.
  • Fatigue.
  • Dehydration.

    For mild cases (frostnip):
  • remove from cold
  • provide skin to skin contact (warmth)
  • blow warm breath over the area
  • do not rub
  • during re-warming, tingling, redness, and sensitivity to cold may occur

  • For more advanced cases (Frostbite):
  • get assistance
  • remove restrictive clothing
  • get victim warm but
  • DO NOT warm or refreeze body part
  • do not rub

  • What to Take - Clothing and Equipment

    Ask your PI and research team about what you should take in terms of equipment and clothing. What will be provided?
  • Antarctic - much of your clothing and equipment will be provided through Raytheon Polar Services Company. Read the Parcticipant Manual.
  • Arctic - you will be responsible for much of your clothing and equipment with some assistance from VECO.
  • Note that your needs will vary depending on your field site; needs on research vessels differ from interior remote field camps!

    Cold Weather Clothing
    Think of layers (layering allows you to stay comfortable; you can remove layer by layer):
  • The environment (outermost layer)
  • Outer layer - water and wind proof (wind pants, parka)
  • Insulation - warmth (polar fleece)
  • Initial layer of clothing - wicks moisture away (long johns or long janes)
  • Body (you provide)

  • Be sure to add the extras - hats, gloves, glove liners, boots, neck gator, etc. You might want to invest in these on your own so that you have accessories that fit.

  • "Hot hands" - hand warmers are good. Keep a layer between you and the packet because they can burn! Note also that you are producing waste that must be disposed.

  • Take sunglasses -- polarized with plastic frames.

  • Take a flashlight.


    STAY SAFE!!!

    Antarctic Logistics

    Marian Moyher
    Raytheon Polar Services Company

    Raytheon Polar Services Company at http://www.polar.org

    The two goals of TEA, as Raytheon sees them:
  • Primary responsibility is the research experience.
  • Secondary responsibility is to communicate to classrooms, colleagues, and the public.

    A Few Words from Past Seasons
  • You will not have much privacy in the field.
  • There will be many people in a small place.
  • Please note that as a teacher, you probably are used to being in charge. Realize that you are turning yourself over to the United States Antarctic Program - USAP is in charge in the Antarctic! There are rules and regulations for a reason.
  • There are many different locations and projects. It often (not always) is difficult to make opportunities to move from place to place and project to project. Remember that getting you to a different project for a few days involves efforts by many people, not just you - and your PI MUST be happy with this.
  • BE FLEXIBLE! Antarctica requires it.
  • Don't let anyone dampen your enthusiasm!
  • Always remember that YOU ARE IN ANTARCTICA - and be happy where you are!

    Chain of Command
  • Always remember that you are a member of a field team. This provides you access to resources.
  • The best way to get supplies and equipment is to go through your PI.
  • If you are sampling, permits will be worked with through your PI.
  • If you are bringing samples back to your classroom, permits will be worked with through your PI.
  • Raytheon will provide a training session for each TEA for accessing computers, parcticipating in CU-SeeMe or Real Audio, sending journals and images, etc. TEA has established some guidelines for this assistance with Raytheon in the form of training sessions. Please be aware that Raytheon is serving hundreds of field team members; your patience, professionalism, and flexibility is greatly appreciated!

  • Orientations are provided to locations as needed.
  • Different types of field work require different safety orientations.
  • If you are at Siple Dome, you will take Snow Craft schools 1 and 2.
  • For glacial studies, it might be Snow Craft 1 and 2 and glacier climbing.
  • For Palmer station, Boating 1 and 2 are commonly taken by the research teams.

  • There is no reason to be cold in Antarctica!
  • All ECW gear is issued, as are tents, field equipment, etc.
  • Survival gear is provided; you will be taught how to use it.

  • Get into shape. Antarctica is a harsh environment - prepare.
  • Medical support varies from station to station.
  • At McMurdo, there are doctors and dentists and you are 5 to 10 hours away (weather permitting) from New Zealand facilities.
  • Palmer and Vessels have EMT's. The Dry Valleys field camps have EMTs.
  • No science team goes without medical personnel (EMTs common). They also have extensive medical kits and a filed field plan.

  • Because the medical network is not perfect, there are medical and dental requirements for the personnel deploying to Antarctica.
  • You will get your medical and dental exams through your PI ~6 months before you deploy.
  • The medical exam is no worse than a very thorough physical.
  • Get your exams done early; this avoids complications.
  • Read everything to assist your doctor; it is easy for them to miss something and your clearance will be held up! Double check that everything has been done completely.

  • Connectivity from the field locations will vary.
  • Raytheon works to make connectivity happen where ever they can.
  • McMurdo and Palmer have Internet capability. South Pole has limited connectivity from 1 to 4 am (ya take it when ya can get it!).
  • Siple Dome and other remote sites may or may not have e-mail connectivity. No Internet.
  • Ships send electronic communications twice a day; no Internet.
  • At every station and on every vessel you will work with a Raytheon person to make sure you can e-mail, download images, etc.
  • Try to bring your own camera - if digital, bring, software, cables, batteries, etc.
  • The Principal Investigator fills out the Support Information Packet for the field research. TEA Program (Steph) fills out a Support Information Packet that details your communication needs as a TEA. Raytheon reviews the needs and works to meet them or to let the PI and TEA Program know if they will not be able to meet them (e.g., Internet connections from the deep remote field are not possible).

    The Environment
  • Please remember that we all are stewards of Antarctica and we need to protect the environment. You will have an environmental orientation. Please always be aware of what you dump down sink, all the opportunities for recycling, what to do to minimize waste, etc.

    Arctic Logistics

    Jill Ferris
    Valued Engineering Construction Operations (VECO)

  • The Arctic program is diffuse - there are many gateways from many countries and organizations.

  • Your link to logistical support is through your PI. This was the first year of formalized logistical support through VECO. The Antarctic infrastructure is much more solidified; you will see growth in the Arctic logistical support.

  • Communications will vary tremendously from location to location. Be patient and flexible.

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