The Process

Last winter, Bob started with the long stories of how fantasic Antarctica was. Through the winter he continued to tell me how I'd love it down there.

As the we moved into the spring, I came to the conclusion that I was ready to do this.

Bob returned to Aspen in early March and made arrangements to have an application mailed to me. After putting it off a while, I finally sent it in May. After a telephone call, and brief visit with the supervisor of the Communications Shop, I had a job offer. I was one of the few who get hired so quickly. My technical skills made for a quick process, many who take more of the un-skilled positions (General Assistant [Labor], Dinning Room [Galley Help], etc.) spend much more time getting to this point.

Getting a job offer is only the start of the process, not the finish.

Everyone who travels to Antarctica ("the ice"), has to complete a medical screening process. The letter they send to the physician starts to highlight how remote of a place this is. After describing the care and facilities on the ice, they make the comment that the situation can sometimes be compared to space travel. Extrication to a regular hospital will be at least several hours, and more likely several days away if something goes wrong. They do provide a Medical Staff and clinic on the ice, but operations and serious cases must be evacuated to New Zealand for regular care.

In my case, I had to do a complete physical, including a EKG (everyone gets one the first year for a baseline), blood and urine tests, an eye exam, dental exams that include a complete set of x-rays.

Wisdom teeth are not allowed, I'd had mine out as a child, but many have the teeth removed before they can go.

They send all of this off, and it is reviewed by a medical staff at ASA. Any follow up tests or treatments are aranged, and when you get to the end of the line, you are "PQ'd" (Physically Qualified) to travel to the ice.

In the mean time, I'd been sent off to a training session in California on the primary equipment I'd be working on, in early July.

The medical tests were not completed until mid august, and by the time I'd gotten all the follow up stuff done, it was the first week of September.

Then of course was all the other items to complete. The National Science Foundation provides a book for participants of the program. It explains a lot of what goes on and some of the details in traveling to 'the ice'.

Of course getting the personal details accomplished, quiting my job, renting my house, and moving my stuff to a storage unit (ugh!), consumed most of the two weeks after I stopped working, and left for the ice.

It was a big relief to be getting on the plane.

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