Full Rain Man


It’s Sunday. And a beautiful Sunday at that. Consequentially, my roommate (who will soon by one of my 11 camp mates at WAIS Divide) and I are putting on warm clothes to walk to the neighbors. The New Zealand base in only a 15-20 minute walk away. We chat about the previous evening as we don our warm things.

“I won’t have access to people’s PQ at camp. I have to call in to McMurdo for that. So I’ve been memorizing everyone’s charts.” “PQ” stands for physically qualified, which is the screening process everyone goes through to get down here. “I don’t want to wait for McMurdo if something happens” I tell him.

“Really? Ok, wow.” He replies

“Yup. So last night, I figured if I could go to the bar and run through everyone’s chart in my head with all the bar noise and mayhem then I’ve probably got it pretty solid. So I sat there and ran through them all and then all the sudden realized I’d been staring at the wall for at least an hour. I went full Rain Man. I must’ve looked like the biggest weirdo just sitting there, beer in hand, staring at the cans across from me!!” We had a good chuckle about that.

We will be approximately 1,025 miles from the next medical facility, which is McMurdo. A sick patient would then have to get transferred to New Zealand. The flight from camp, if we can arrange an LC-130 Hercules, is about three hours. If I have to medevac a patient on a Twin Otter or Basler it would likely be five-six hours. And that is assuming we had a plane on the ground in camp and didn’t have to bring one in.

I have a few Wilderness First Responders on my team and one EMT. But the EMT is also the station manager, so in the event of a medevac he would be handling logistics, not available to help with a casualty. It really is up to me to keep someone alive in the event the worst happens.

So, I’ll run through everyone’s charts until I know them inside and out. And if that means I have to go full Rain Man at the pub, so be it.

Everyone comes home.

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