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The Mendel Base At James Ross Island

We take a closer look into the setup of the Mendel Base at James Ross Island with the equipment available and the challenges for medevac.
© Dr Zdenek Bares, University College London Hospital NHS trust

The challenges of transfer medicine in the Antarctic are illustrated by looking closer at one of the bases and understanding the set up…

  • The Mendel Base at James Ross Island is a Summer-only base for maximum of 20 people.
  • It can be pleasantly warm in Summer with a +16C temperature and sunny days on King George Island. The average temperature during Summer is 4C. Compared to this, the Summer average at the South Pole is a chilly -17C (and the Winter average is -74.7C!)
  • There is one board-certified doctor with airway competencies, transfer medicine skills and experience in emergency medicine on the base.

What Equipment Do You Have Available?

  • All equipment and medication needed for full ATLS and ALS (including emergency drugs, sedation for extended periods, tranexamic acid, state of the art defibrillator, splints, bandages, chest drains, pigtail drains, intubation tubes, laryngeal masks, gum elastic bougies, self-inflating bags, infusion sets, various infusions etc.)
  • Saturation probe, non-invasive BP cuff, urine dips, glucometer
  • Basic suture set and basic set for minor surgery and emergency procedures
  • Neuroprotective medication
  • Antibiotics (including Linezolid, Meropenem, Vancomycin), anti-virals (including Oseltamivir, Acyclovir), antimycotic drugs
  • Antipsychotics, benzodiazepines etc.
The facilities not available at all include X-ray, ultrasound, ECHO, and there is also no lab

Major Medical Emergency Transfer Plans

  • Patients will be stabilised at base, with simultaneous emergency communication with nearby bases/vessels via satellite phone.
  • If weather permits, helicopter evacuation to a base with a larger medical facility and airstrip will be attempted, facilitated by the station doctor.
  • If this is not possible due to weather conditions, the next step is to attempt to use a Zodiac boat to approach the closest base.
  • From there, evacuation to Punta Arenas in Chile or Rio Gallegos in Argentina by plane, and there is a plane with a pressurised cabin available.
© Dr Zdenek Bares, University College London Hospital NHS trust
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A Journey Through Transfer Medicine

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