Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Emergency Evacuation Controversary related to Stroke Victim at South Pole Base

A controversy has arisen related to whether a stroke victim should be/have been evacuated sooner from the South Pole Base.  Renee-Nicole Douceur is believed to have had a stroke (they cannot confirm with tech they have at base) on August 27, 2011, but was denied emergency evacuation until regular flights resume in mid-October.  It is pretty routine that an emergency evacuation just cannot happen until then due to weather.

However, in most cases when you hear about medical evacuations being necessary in Antarctica, there is a crew put on standby to go in if weather allows.  It sounds like it has not been the case this time, but at the same time the feasability of it being the South Pole versus more coastal parts of Antarctica makes a difference.

The evidence that she should be evacuated brings up Dr. Neilson who had breast cancer, yet does not bring up the fact that she still had to winter over there and wait before being evacuated, which is basically the same as in this situation. 

Sure, you do not want the person to get worse, but the harsh winter conditions do not seem to really warrant the risk of an emergency evacuation until the weather is appropriate, as otherwise more are at risk than just the patient.  Unfortunately, you cannot expect to get the same medical care if you choose to work in Antarctica as you would get back home in the states.

The facts about all this seem kind of messed up with one report calling it a heart attack and another calling it a stroke (this seems more likely, as it has quotes that describe it). 

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