Australia successfully evacuated an unwell researcher from the isolated Casey outpost in Antarctica on Monday, as reported by CNN, citing Australian authorities. This operation took place more than a week after the Australian Antarctic Program (AAP) announced the deployment of an icebreaker to rescue a researcher who had a “developing medical condition.”
In an update on Monday, the Australian Antarctic Division (AAD) said the icebreaking ship RSV Nuyina had sailed more than 3,000 kilometres from Tasmania’s Hobart to attend to the unnamed patient at the Casey Research Station in the east Antarctic.
Last week officials in Australia said that they had launched an urgent rescue operation for an expeditioner who needs specialist medical assessment and care in Tasmania.
“Getting this expeditioner back to Tasmania for the specialist medical care required is our priority,” said Robb Clifton, AAD’s acting general manager of operations and logistics, in a statement on Monday (September 4).
The first phase of the evacuation was performed safely and successfully and the ship is now on the return voyage to Hobart,” said Clifton, in the statement.
He added, “The expeditioner will be looked after in the Nuyina’s specially equipped and designed medical facility by our polar medicine doctors and Royal Hobart Hospital medical staff.”
Notably, Casey Research Station is located on the northern part of Bailey Peninsula on the Budd Coast which is some 3,880 kilometres south of the Australian city of Perth. However, an icebreaker undertook the long journey after an air rescue was ruled out due to the harsh conditions of the region.
The Nuyina, which sailed for days in the open seas of the Southern Ocean had to break through sea ice to get close enough to the site and deployed two helicopters which airlifted the patient back to the ship, said the AAD.
The vessel will return from one of Australia’s three permanent stations on the Antarctic coast – which is home to only some 20 people during winter when conditions are at their worst – to Tasmania depending on weather conditions, said the AAD.
A spokesman for the AAP had previously told BBC, that the “wellbeing of our people is our highest priority” and that the “expeditioner’s family is being kept fully informed of the situation.” He added, “All other personnel on stations are accounted for and safe.”