Antarctic Life

A frozen outlook on life on the ice

Wednesday Walkabout Week 5: The Tag Board

Halley VI, Brunt Ice Shelf, Antarctica 75°36'36"S 26°16'14"W

Temperature: -33.4°C

Wind Speed: 11 kts SSE


Now that the weather is getting considerably colder - the past few days had been consistently into the -40's (Celsius and Fahrenheit) it is even more important to ensure that people know where everyone is when they are not within the safety of the main modules.

The Tag BoardVarious locations within and outwith the perimeter for people to indicate their location

Safety is critically important in a place where there is no hope of rescue or treatment in a hospital - we need to be entirely self-sufficient. Today a search-and-rescue exercise was performed which went very well and is part of the regular training schedule during the winter.

The tag board, along with a sign-out book are key in tracking movements when working in different areas. The premise is very simple and is effective at ensuring everyone is accounted for, failing that it is a good start for a rescue operation.

During the day the person on cleaning responsibilities is also responsible for monitoring the sign-out book to ensure that people are back when they have indicated - for example if the vehicle mech is not back from the garage by 17:45 when he indicated he would be by 17:30. The tag board is a good quick visual indicator of where everyone is at any one time, whilst the book provides more detail, such as ETA and precise location when tagging to the perimeter.

As you may be able to see from the board, there are many areas where someone may tag themselves out to, however there is also a general perimeter area where they will specific more precisely in the book.

If a person does not radio back to update their ETA and have lapsed by 15 minutes or more, then they will first be hailed by radio before any search is undertaken.

The tag board also doubles as a muster board, allowing everyone to be accounted for or not during alarms by simply flipping their tag over when mustered.

During summer the same principles apply however there are obviously significantly more personnel around and the weather is much less severe.

When someone is within the modules they do not need to indicate where they are, nor do they need to move their tag across the board to represent this.