It’s all about the buddy system

The theme of the day was training, training and more training! In comparison to our last few mornings, we had the luxury of sleeping in today, with our first class at the late hour of 7:30 am. We started off with briefing and then went on to Core Training, which consisted of Light Vehicle (F350 “light” not Civic “light”), Fire Safety, Waste Management, and Health training. Most of what was covered involved cold weather considerations, and proper water and waste management associated with remote locations. Some topics were less obvious or expected, although they make perfect sense. For example, always park facing the wind since an open door is essentially a large sail when the wind is behind it. Also, writing or creating art with a finger on a muddy car, is literally etching musings into the side of the vehicle for years to come (the mud is made of sharp volcanic rock). Wonder if there’s a book of the “best” efforts somewhere…

After a break for lunch, we were in for a few hours of Field Safety and Training, which was a lot of fun! We got to start a fire, put up a tent and practice our knots. These would all be helpful should we ever have to dip into our emergency kits filled with survival equipment.

The day can be summarized in two statements that inevitably go hand in hand:

  • Safety is the priority
  • Communication is key

The importance of communication and safety planning, both within the team and with support staff, before hitting the field, while out in the field and a debrief after are the best ways to ensure that science is done successfully and safely (injured scientist = no science). Most injuries are found by other team members rather than the affected person, so it is important not only to pay attention to your own body (am I dehydrated? unfocused? cranky?) but the moods and well-being of others as well. Much like any other activity where even momentary inattention can have severe consequences, the buddy system is key.

McMurdo Station functions like a small town – a special and wonderful small town dedicated to understanding the world around us. It’s everyone’s job to make sure everyone is safe and happy. Looking forward to what the coming days will bring!


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Figure 1. Angela can save us from dehydration and cold!