Local paramedic joins expedition to one of Earth’s remotest spots

2017-11-27 14:18
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Getting rid of a Gough Island alien

A South African eradication team has been deployed to Gough Island to target a devastating invasive alien plant, see pics of a prior expedition.

A Pietermaritzburg paramedic is joining a daring expedition to an island so remote that more people have been in outer space than set foot there.

ER24 advanced life support paramedic Tristan Manning leaves for Bouvet Island in the South Atlantic Ocean on December 7 as the expedition team’s medic, with two marine mammal experts and a marine bird masters student making up the team of intrepid explorers.

The Norwegian Polar Institute sends four people to the island once every three years to do research on marine mammals.

Ninety-three percent of the 49-square kilometre island is covered by a glacier.

“Our only access is through a beach 300 metres wide and two kilometres in length and we will be sharing this space with up to 40 000 animals including elephant seals, fur seals, various penguins and sea bird species,” said Manning.

“The island is completely uninhabited. The previous research station there disappeared and another station was installed in 2014.

“Nobody has been to the island in three years so although we know the station is still standing, we don’t know if it will be habitable or not.

“Although it is an extinct volcanic island, tectonic changes take place often and the island is slammed by storms 300 days out of the year because of its placement.”

Manning, who has been a paramedic for 17 years and an advanced life support paramedic for two-and-a-half years, said he first heard about the expedition from a post on a Facebook medical group.

“It said they were looking for South African paramedics. I applied and was shortlisted to the top five.”

He said the other four paramedics who applied were from Cape Town. He came up trumps and was selected as the expedition team’s medic.

He said his selection also meant he was being afforded the opportunity to expand and diversify his skills as a paramedic.

“I want to specialise in expedition medicine on remote sites and this will be the first proper remote place I will work in.”

Manning and the research team will travel for seven days by boat, weather permitting, and once they reach the island they will be flown in onto the beach as it is too rocky and steep and the waves too tumultuous for a boat.

They will spend two-and-a-half months there.

He said he felt confident in his skills and had been to other fairly remote places in Iraq and various African countries. “I am very excited. This is the equivalent of going to space. It is the chance of a lifetime.”

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg

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