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Bratina Project start to finish 3 - Medicals

Once you have a project and funding to go down to Antarctica Antarctica New Zealand still need to make sure that you are physically fit enough for your trip. The requirements are different based on what you are doing, fairly standard tests for short summer trips, more stringent tests for deep field projects (a mandatory ECG) and even more stringent for over winter personnel. Most who go down only need the basic short stay summer tests and since that is what I have just been through that is what I will focus on in this post. 

Firstly Antarctica New Zealand has a great site with a large amount of information about Scott base and just how things work down there which if you are really interested I would recommend. But more concisely the following are requirements to be completed before you go down to Antarctica:

Medical Examination: This includes a medical history to be taken, full physical, a range of blood and urine tests, polio and tetanus immunization if not up to date, ECG (generally for deep field projects but if you are over 60 years old it is mandatory) all resulting in your local GP declaring you fit or not for Antarctica and sending the forms along to Antarctica New Zealand's medical assessor. 

Dental clearance: this requires you to see a dentist and have them sign a declaration saying that there are no dental problems that may flare up while down in Antarctica (for instance I was having some mild problems with my wisdom teeth which were recommended to be removed, just in case).

Personal information and Antarctic clothing: although not specifically medical they are bundled in the same set of documents so I will mention them quickly. The personal information is just that including contact details that Antarctica New Zealand can use if you are delayed or something happens down south (remember communications are available but not to the same extent as in NZ). The Antarctic clothing just gives the heads up to the logistics people in Antarctica New Zealand to streamline assigning of cold weather clothing to those heading to Antarctica.

Now I should mention that all of these medicals etc are just a precaution, typically very few injuries occur in Antarctica but due to the isolation and lack of infrastructure it is essential to eliminate as many avoidable health related problems as possible. 

As always if you would like to know anything more about any of my posts just leave a comment or you can find my direct contact details through the ICTAR website.

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