Wednesday, March 07, 2007

A nice day for training

The day started out with a little field trip.

Heading out to the Ice Cube Lab from DSL.

This morning we had an exercise to familiarize people with the buildings in the Dark Sector, and took tours of the Dark Sector Lab, which houses BICEP and the 10 meter South Pole Telescope, the Ice Cube Lab and MAPO, which houses QUAD. The purpose of the exercise was to learn about hazards in the work areas there, to know where the fire extinguishers and egress points are and where we have stashes of emergency trauma gear.

Everyone on the crew here has to serve on either the fire team or trauma team. If there's an emergency, we are the ones who have to deal with it since we can't call 911 and have professional fire fighters or paramedics come over. And since we have only two medical providers, we rely on trained members of the community to help out with emergencies or mass casualty situations. We all spend a lot of time training and drilling and responding to alarms both real and false. So far we've been lucky but still we keep practicing challenging scenarios for drills just in case we're faced with a real incident.

I took these pictures as we were walking to and from the different buildings.

Ice Cube Lab, which used to be the El Dorm.

Just one week ago, we were doing the human hoist with literally tons of beer. It was a beautiful day with sunny blue skies and little wind. Today it was blowing steadily at 16 knots, overcast with poor visibility with the blowing snow. It's still not all that cold yet, only about -60F or -51C. The sun is low on the horizon, as you can see from the above photo and the light is getting softer and dimmer.

This shot was taken from the first level landing of the elevated station looking along the flagline that goes out to the Dark Sector. Normally you can look out and clearly see the buildings there but today, you could barely see to the skiway. That's the reason why we flag the route in the winter, so that when it's dark and the visibility is poor, people can follow the flags and get to where they need to go.

In case you're wondering about the Dark Sector and the science that's going on there, I'll feature it in a future post soon. The science is, after all, the real reason why any of us are down here at this frozen end of the earth.


At 11:42 PM, Anonymous Tara said...

This has been bugging me for ages: why is it called the "Dark Sector"?

At 3:42 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Looks like it's getting close to sundown, are you ready for the300 club?


At 6:32 AM, Blogger Heidi said...

Tara - It's called the Dark Sector for several reasons - light is restricted outside around the station so as not to interfere with telescopes out there (and actually more so for an aurora experiment on the roof of the station). Also, no VHF radios can be used out there as they will show up as spikes in the data for the microwave radiation detectors. And the real reason is there is a large presence of the Dark side of the Force, with occasional sightings of Darth Vader himself.

Craig - We miss you! I'll be psyching myself up for running around naked outside soon. Sunset will be in a couple of weeks now...

At 1:58 PM, Blogger Ethan said...

Ah... the departing sun... good luck with visibility as the Hell Star skims the horizon out the galley windows.

At 9:32 PM, Blogger Neal said...

Thanks for being 50% of our medical staff. It can't be fun looking at everyone's rashes.

At 1:24 AM, Anonymous Tara said...

Heidi - has anyone succumbed to the Dark Side yet?

Neal - just what sort of rash is going around the base???

At 6:35 AM, Blogger Heidi said...

Hey Ethan - we watched that Ali G DVD that you's pretty bad but it's SO YOU!

Neal - I'm not worried about the rashes as much as the damn basketball injuries!

Tara - We've all given in to the Dark's just easier and a heck a lot of more fun on a Saturday night.


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