Sunday, 23 September 2012

Girton - Antarctic Pre-deployment Training Course

Lots of stuff has happened in the past 3 weeks. I will try to recall as much as possible :D

From the 16th to 23rd of September (nearly) all of us were at Girton College which reminded me a bit of Hogwarts. We learned lots and lots about going to Antarctica and (even more importantly I guess) got to know each other ...

Sunday - 16/09/2012
After arriving between 3pm and 4pm the schedule wasn't too tight ... Luckily the worst bit got done first: having blood taken ... Talks were kept to a minimum. After a lovely roast dinner, we met up within all the different groups depending on what station one was going to (Rothera, Halley, KEP & Bird Island, Signy). There were a lot of us in the Rothera group as winteres as well as summer people attended the conference.

Monday & Tuesday - 17/09/2012 & 18/09/2012
During those 2 days we heard lots about living in Antarctica, how to get there, British Antarctic Territory, British Antarctic Tax and lots and lots more ... Luckily, we were not expected to take more than 10% away from what we have been told ... We also learned about some of the different research projects going on (iStar, Subglacial Lake Ellsworth, Biology in Ryder Bay). Especially the last talk was good for me as it covered most of the stuff I will have to do ... The days were well structured with tight schedules. However, after each 20 minute talk we had to move to another room which surely kept the blood circulation going and prevented the lack of attention due to slowly closing eyelids (don't get me wrong, it was all interesting but having talks all day can be very demanding, especially after having to socialise each evening in the bar ...).

Wednesday - 19/09/2012
Graduation Day!! - and yes, I missed it ...
During the morning we had a very long workshop in which we learned about working and living closely together. Lots of entertainment, fun activities and certainly enjoyable (I would put more down to describe it but it appears that I have forgotten most of the details ...). Free hugs for everyone!
In the afternoon some poor souls had to attend computer training or the fire extinguisher course. Most others joined the punting on the river Cam (What better way to celebrate my graduation?!). After mastering the skill of punting (more or less) we shared my bottle of sparkling wine (Happy Graduation :)). Shortly before 4pm (when the ceremony was due to start) I went for a swim :) It was freezing but good. Although I had the impression that some people were worried about my sanity (oh well ...). Pictures were taken of this adventure, but unfortunately not on my camera. When we were sitting in the bar in the evening (after having our first First Aid lectures) another surprise waited for me: A big box of celebrations, a card and a home-made graduation hat :) Certainly the best one I have ever seen!! Thank you everyone! That certainly made my day.

Thursday & Friday - 20/09/2012 & 21/09/2012
First Aid - First Aid - First Aid. The guys from BASMU (BAS Medical Unit) came all the way from Plymouth and other places to teach us first aid for 2 days. The course was specially tailored for Antarctica. We even learned how to give injections (poor oranges ...). Other than that, lots of splinting legs and arms, dealing with hypothermic people, dealing with burns ... I also took away from the course to not eat any more sugar (bad for my teeth) and to not ge pregnant (the latter will lead to the termination of my time down there - I certainly don't want that ...). All in all it was a great course. The doctors coming down with us were invovled in teaching us as well as doctors who had previously wintered in Antarctica which was really nice. Friday afternoon a whole lot of volunteers came in to act as patients which we had to treat in groups. They were sometimes a real pain but how else could we be learning better! Friday was finished off by a swim in the Cam which again was cold but fun fun fun.

Saturday - 22/09/2012
Oil-Spill response course. Death by powerpoint is a term by which the whole week was often described ... But hejho, who doesn't like a good powerpoint. The course was informative: If you spill something, clean it up and report it! It was good to learn about the different things we might have available down there in case of a bigger spill and how the cleaning up would be organised ... In the afternoon I finally got my volleyball out andit didn't take long until we got a good game going (that's the good thing when no pro's are around - whatever you do, it looks like you are a professional). This was definately the most exercise we had done all week and some people did complain about muscle ache the next day ...

Sunday - 23/09/2012
Day off! As I already had my Seasurvival ticket, I didn't have to do it again and got the day off.

So much more to tell but I am sure people might already be tired reading all of this! ;)

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