Almost anywhere in the world, help is minutes, at most hours, away. Those who work at Casey Station in Antarctica live far more dangerously. According to the Australian Antarctic Program (AAP), a researcher here needs special medical treatment. The AAP did not say what the Australian was ill with. "The expeditioner requires specialist evaluation and care in Australia due to a developing medical condition," an AAP spokesman told the British Guardian.
The problem: Thousands of kilometers separate the research station on the east coast of Antarctica from civilization. A rescue from the air is out of the question because of the difficult conditions. The only way leads across the vastness of the ocean.
The mission preparations alone took weeks, the media report with reference to the AAP. Last week, the icebreaker RSV Nuyina and the helicopter on board were finally able to start their journey from Tasmania. Hobart, the capital of the Australian island, is around 3400 kilometers from Casey Station. With a top speed of almost 30 kilometers per hour, it takes the Nuyina days to reach its destination.
Such rescue missions are usually complicated and often require international cooperation. But in this case, the icebreaker is apparently the only way to help the sick person. Although there is an airfield, it is not always usable during the severe winter. According to the BBC, the ice runway would have to be worked on for weeks before a landing could be considered. It's much faster by ship.
More than 150 expedition members visit Casey Station in the summer. However, a maximum of 20 people survive the bitterly cold, dark winter months here. It is one of three permanently occupied facilities operated by the AAP in Antarctica. The AAP transmits images from on site via webcam. You can see what it looks like here.
Basic medical care is available, but it is very limited. According to the Guardian, there are only one or two trained doctors there. "The freight forwarder's family will be informed of the situation," the BBC's AAP told the BBC. All other employees are doing well.
Sources: BBC; "Guardians," AP