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Staying Healthy

The surgery at Rothera

Have you ever had frostbite and what do you do if someone gets ill?

I've had mild frostbite in my big toe. At Rothera we have a doctor and a small surgery. In the field we carry extensive medical supplies and we are in radio contact with the doctor. We also receive training in first aid and patient care. This allows us to cope in the absence of medical help.

I have never had frostbite and as far as I know nobody else has this winter. Most people do get minor cold injuries on their face, hands or feet from time to time. These can usually be avoided if you wear the correct clothing, keep active while you are outside and try to minimise the amount of time you have to handle items - just trying to take a picture can leave you with minor cold injuries if you are not careful.

We have a doctor on base and there is also a small surgery. If it is not a serious illness then you can just go and see the doctor about it. Planes are available during the summer months (November through to February) and if someone is too ill to stay at Halley they can be flown to the hospital in the Falkland Islands.

Have you ever left the window open at night and woken up frozen to the bed?

I really liked this question! It's quite easy to answer too as we don't have any opening windows on our main platform! We have a few main vents to the outside air instead and this is pumped around the buildings (In fact there's only one window on base that opens and that's on one of the science platforms because we need direct sunlight for one of the experiments.)

A lot of people find frost building up on the inside of their bedroom windows, even though the rooms themselves are still warm. I definitely don't have that problem as my bedroom doesn't have any windows!

When we go camping frost builds up on the inside of the tent sometimes and showers you with cold ice in the morning (not very pleasant!) We've even built ourselves an igloo and it can be very cold sleeping out there, especially if you wake up with your face against the snow!

There are lots of other strange ways of getting bits of you frozen though. When it gets very cold (minus 30 or 40 degrees C) any moisture on your hands can make you stick to any metalwork unless you wear gloves! We've had quite a few BBQs and you have to be very careful eating things off your fork - making sure only your teeth touch the metal! You also have to watch out for metal bits on cameras, spanners and other tools and even the steps up to the platforms. But I suppose that's just part of the interesting and unusual things that you almost get used to living here.