If one of our expditioners falls ill or has an injury that requires surgery, the station doctor needs lots of help to perform an operation safely. They only have one set of hands after all!
Each year during pre-departure training, four expeditioners undertake the role of Lay Surgical Assistants (LSAs). They head off to learn all about the operating theatre environment at the Royal Hobart Hospital. Here, they are taught how to scrub and gown, how to maintain sterility during an operation while assisting the doctor, and how to monitor a patient while they are under an anaesthetic.
Part of ongoing station training is to practice these new skills, so on Friday 6 October Macca’s four LSAs, David, Wayne, Kerri and Geoff were put through their paces with a full theatre case scenario.
Our ‘patient’ just happened to be the Station Leader, who sadly had developed appendicitis, with no other alternative other than to operate! Under the watchful eyes of Kerri and Geoff, our beloved SL drifted off to sleep in an anaesthetic haze, whilst Wayne and David bustled about counting haemostats, packs and needles with surgical precision, and Dr Jan artfully removed the offending organ without spilling so much as a drop of blood. Success!
Hopefully we never have to use these skills in real life, but the team is capable and ready to spring into action if needed.
Dr. Jan Wallace — 2017 Macquarie Island Expedition Doctor