Australia rescues Antarctic expeditioner at US's McMurdo station

Australia’s Antarctic Division (AAD) has flown to the rescue of an expeditioner after a request from the US, with a team landing on ice in -30 degrees Celsius conditions. The AAD received a request from the US Antarctic Program on Friday asking for an “emergency medical evacuation of an expeditioner from a United States base in Antarctica”, the division said in a statement. An AAD medical team, “supported by specialists from the Royal Hobart Hospital” was despatched in Australia’s Antarctic Airbus A319 to McMurdo station in East Antarctica, a distance of about 3,900 kilometres.

“The conditions on the ground were challenging, when the Airbus landed at McMurdo station it was around -30 with wind chill,” AAD general manager of Antarctic operations and safety Charlton Clark said.

“At this time of the year most Antarctic nations have already shut down operations for the winter season, so this medical evacuation was unusual.”

The expeditioner was picked up from McMurdo and flown to Christchurch in New Zealand. “We are really pleased to be able to assist the United States Antarctic Program as a first-responder in this emergency and it’s a real testament to the great spirit of cooperation between Antarctic nations,” Mr Clark said. It is unclear why the expeditioner needed specialist attention.

The US National Science Foundation’s head of Antarctic infrastructure and logistics, Stephanie Short, said she was “very grateful for the rapid response from the AAD, flight crew and medical team”.

“It’s great to have the support of national partners and know that we all share a deep dedication to Antarctic research programs and personnel,” Ms Short said.

The Skytraders Airbus A319 is on charter to the AAD.

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