my trip to the Antarctica and the South Pole

Monday, October 25, 2004

First day of work

Today I got mail for the first time here! It was just a couple of the packages I had sent myself before I left, but it was still fun to get mail. I was very surprised it got here so soon after station opening.

Today was also my first real real day of work, and it was pretty cool. I mainly just trained with the present cryogenics tech in the morning. I had my first scary altitude related physiological issue today. Getting enough oxygen here is a challenge on a normal day, as the equivalent physiological altitude here is usually over 10,000 ft. Today, however, it was around 11,000. I was standing out in the cold learning about the big liquid helium transport when I started to feel extremely dizzy. I realized I was standing right downwind of some idling heavy equipment runing on JP-8 and breathing in serious fumes. I was extremely cold and my hands and toes were going numb, and my head was swimming. I kept dropping the stuff I was holding and couldn't concentrate. I tried breathing deeper, but there just wasn't enough oxygen in the air I was taking in, and for one of the first times in my life, I really felt like I was going to faint on the spot. I finally went inside eventually felt better after I sat down with my head between my knees. It's pretty normal to gasp for air here, especially after going up stairs or walking quickly, but today's experience was different. Mental note: stay well clear of machinery exhaust!

My afternoon was spent on a thorough tour of the station learning about all the fire panels and systems. On station, we don't have a dedicated fire crew, so a team of winter-overs go to fire school and serve as the fire squad. I'm one of the trained fire people, and was assigned to Team 1, which is the first responder team that goes directly to the location of a fire alarm to asses the situation and prepare for Team 2, which is the team that wears all the bunker gear and air tanks and actually fights the fire. So, I went into every mechanical room, every power generator room, and all kinds of other places on station I normally wouldn't see, like the huge fuel pump arches and the water melting plant. It was really cool! Plus, I got my own radio to monitor for fire alarm calls. So now I look like a real Polie with my radio stuck in the pocket of my Carhart overalls. :)


Blogger K-Dog said...

I like the fact that JP-8 has its own web page! . Keep your 02 levels up! Did you ever see the Nova show where someone was giving cognitive tests to people on Mt. Everest? Scary!

October 25, 2004 at 7:20 PM


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