Working on the sea ice comes with a unique set of risks: the cold, deep drifting snow, a steep gangway from the Healy, and even the threat of a wandering polar bear. Add to this the possibility that someone might fall through a thin patch of ice. Luckily, the science party have a crack team of coastguard trained to make sure everyone comes safely back on board.

The coastguard survey the region thoroughly before the science party disembarks the Healy, checking for ice thickness and designating safe zones for the team to work in. The bear watch on the brow keep a keen eye on the horizon, rifles in hand. And the ice rescuers are always on hand with their familiar yellow hoop of foam for the unlikely possibility that someone might go into the water.

At this ice station the rescue team take the opportunity to hone their skills and break in some new members. They go through self rescue techniques followed by assisted rescues of both conscious and unconscious victims. This is the first time Healy has ever conducted ice rescue training in the Arctic (most of the training the ice rescuers undergo is at a training facility on Lake Michigan). The rescuers clearly relish the opportunity as quickly and smoothly they pluck “victim” after “victim” from the icy embraces of the Arctic Ocean.

About The Author

Ben Harden

Ben is a polar oceanographer and meteorologist working at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. He is also a multimedia producer making radio and video programs. On this expedition Ben will be documenting the science and life aboard the Healy in a range of mediums.

2 Responses

  1. Erin Curtis

    Thank you for showing what it takes to do a water was fun to’s great to see that with hard work comes a little play..again thank you for posting..


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