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HMS Clyde rehearses disaster relief drills on remote island

14 February 2018
What would happen if one of the remotest islands on the planet was struck by disaster? That was the scenario faced by the crew of HMS Clyde when they arrived in South Georgia for a mass casualty exercise.

Only around 30 people live on the South Atlantic island, which lies over 800 miles east of the Falklands, but during the Austral summer it is regularly visited by cruise ships carrying tourists keen to soak up Antarctic history, pay homage at Shackleton's grave and wander around the abandoned whaling station.

There's no hospital on South Georgia, no airfield and it's beyond helicopter range so apart from the doctor who tends to the needs of the British Antarctic Survey team on the island - 22 scientists in the summer, a dozen in the winter - which monitors the rich wildlife.

And it falls on the doctor and the scientists to provide emergency care should there be an accident.

With many sailors trained for such occurrences, we were able to advise on a number of lessons which they will incorporate into their reaction plans for the future.

Lt Cdr Peter Barfoot

To keep their skills up to speed, Falklands patrol ship HMS Clyde rocked up as a stricken cruise liner with 20 'casualties' after a fire.

Leading Medical Assistant Will Randall transformed his shipmates into bloodied, broken and traumatised 'passengers'… who then delivered performances that would not be out of place in the West End.

The casualties suffered from injuries ranging from severe shock to open-leg fractures which the team quickly identified.

As the situation progressed the team assessed every individual and moved them across the bay to the main research station at King Edward Point in South Georgia's 'capital' Grytviken, which served as the control hub for the exercise which was observed by the British Commander in the Falklands, Brig Baz Bennett.

The speed and effectiveness of the close-knit Antarctic Survey team demonstrated their ability to deliver prolonged care to those in need.

South Georgia's government is determined to preserve the island's unique environment, and all the visiting sailors received firm briefings on not upsetting Nature's balance by introducing foreign organisms or contaminating Grytviken with rubbish.

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