January Journal

 

01/27/09

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Journal-ish kind of thing

 

01 Jan.  Just as soon as I finished the Snowcraft 2 class I was instructing crevasse rescue to the secondary Search and Rescue team.  We started the day in the classroom going over victim packaging, hypothermia treatment, rope rescue systems and my section vertical litter rigging.  We headed out to the crevasse simulator after lunch and ran through a rescue scenario.  The patient was located at the bottom of the crevasse and the hasty search team reconned the area and began to access the patient and set up for a rope rescue.  This turned out to be a very informative training for me.  I had a blast.  I got to see a lot of the skills that I have taught and used over the years in a whole new way.  The particularities of the snow and ice make you think a bit differently.  One major thing is that ropes don't dig into the rocks of a mountain like they do in the snow of a crevasse.  There is a lot more work done "prepping the edge" than you do in any other type of rescue.  Most of the rope skills are the same as any other rescue.  Here is a little video of us doing "roped" glacier travel.

 

20 Jan.  I was thinking that I should walk around town and take some pictures of some of the interesting stuff around town. I haven't gotten to far but here is one of the little unique pieces of McMurdo.  Since the ground is frozen most of the utility pipes are run above ground.  This makes it necessary to put little bridges all over to get across. This bridge is one of the central ones and usually is covertly decorated on a regular basis.  I found one accoutrement very fascinating.  This is a Troll Bridge!  You can see from the pictures that a Steely Troll lives under the bridge ready to strike the unaware traveler.

 

 

22 Jan.   Ok, I guess you all are wondering where the heck is that guy?  No news!  Did he fall in and get eaten by the orcas, or did he get his eyes pecked out by a rabid Skua bird.  I have no real excuse except procrastination and not remembering to take my camera around with me.  The station is getting busy with the influx of the Coast Guard, the fuel tanker, a couple of cruise ships and the upcoming cargo vessel.  The Coast Guard Icebreakers Polar Sea and Polar Star have busted up the ice and actually brought open water to McMurdo Sound!  There has not been open water here in about 3-4 years since the big iceberg jammed up the current flow.  The ice is thick and tough here.  The Sea and Star worked real hard and got it all busted up.  Favorable winds drove the busted up ice out to sea.  The town also got a taste of the first drunken sailors when the boats granted shore leave.  Lots of fun was had by all.  I even found an old shipmate of mine on the Polar Sea.  A guy I was stationed on the Storis in Alaska is now a navigator on the breaker.  It was fun catching up and reminiscing about the Storis and the crew. 

Next in was a few cruise boats.  The Russians run a few cruise boats the come down here and tour around.  I guess they are really expensive.  The Kelebnikof actually has a helicopter and flies its passengers to McMurdo to hit the store and tour around.  So it was funny to see small groups of tourists wandering around taking pictures of us.  Kind of felt like we were in a zoo.  the second cruise ship  tied off to the ice edge and the tourists walked into town.  I didn't happen to talk to any of them since I was working on the tour days.

The NSF reaserch vessel the Nathanial Palmer tied up for a few days to change out some crew and refuel.   

Yesterday the Tanker the Gianella arrived to fuel up this thirsty station.  This is the time of year that the station receives its yearly supply of fuel and bulk goods.  The tanker offloads millions of gallons of jp8 and gasoline.  Soon the cargo ship will arrive and bring the bulk goods necessary for the livelihood of this far away place.

Travel dates are rapidly approaching.  I was scheduled to leave on Feb 17 but have been bumped to the 15th, now to the 9th.  I imagine that Ill get bumped again soon.  I have to get my junk together and ship out all my extra stuff soon.  I have no idea what I'm going to do after the ice.  My brother Scott should be in Sydney, Australia around the 16th of Feb. for work.  I think that crashing in his free hotel room sounds good.  A quick tour around Australia and probably show Scott around New Zealand also.  Then back to the states to enjoy a little unemployment.

 

30 Jan.  I must admit that not much interesting has happened of late.  The tanker finished the fuel offload and headed out.  The Polar Sea stopped in for a short port call and to load up a bunch of fuel hose.  The Sea and the tanker headed out to Marble point station to refuel them.  I hear that the ice has been so bad that they have not received fuel in 3 years.  If they were unable to refuel them they would have had to either close the station there or try to bring it by truck over the sea ice.  The big Icebreakers managed to break their way in and they will only have to lay about 800 yards of fuel hose to be able to refuel them. 

The rest of my time right now is spent getting ready to leave.  We have been quite busy at work due to our dwindling staff.  This is probably the busiest part of the season with the tanker refuel, the cargo ship offload and dual airfield operations.  All this while the bulk of our staff have to fly out of here.  We are having to recall off duty persons to cover our minimum staffing requirements.  The big C-141's have started flying down again with the redeployment push.  This straps our resources quite a bit.  The heavy cargo aircraft also have to use the glacial ice runway we call Pegasus.  Pegasus is about an hour to hour and a half drive from town.  When the 141's come in we have to staff Pegasus with 7 people, 6 on 2 firetrucks and one officer as Pegasus control.  Since there is no tower personnel at Pegasus we have to become the airfield controller from our truck.  These operations also are ongoing while we have 2 other stations that have to be fully operational with minimum staffing.  Williams airfield, the compacted snow runway for the smaller C-130's requires a 4 person crew and I need 7 people back at Station 1 in town.  Grand total of 18 for just minimums.  With all the redeployments my shift only has 15 people.  This means that we are having so scrounge for people where ever we can find them.  The Chief, Prevention Officer and myself are now all in the duty rotation and actively working on the trucks.  We also will have the off duty shift help augment our staffing when needed.

I am still scheduled to depart on Friday the 6th, that's actually Thurs. the 5th for yall on the other side of the date line.  I haven't gotten my flight reservations yet but I am going to hang out in New Zealand for a few weeks then fly to Sydney for a few weeks with Scott then fly home with him on the 7th of March.  More on that later...

 

 

 

 

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