Because the nearest hospitals are in the Falkland Islands and Chile, and the staff on station are completely cut off in winter, it’s vital that everyone living and working in Antarctica is fit and healthy. However, if medical attention is required then the larger stations have a fully equipped doctor’s surgery which can operate also as a dentist’s or operating theatre.
Everyone who goes to work at a British Antarctic Survey research station undergoes a medical fitness assessment based on the individuals’s work requirement, activity, location and level of local medical and operational support available. The standard medical screening is bespoke to the individual. BAS HR and Operational teams work with the BAS Medical Unit to ensure an individual’s medical fitness will not impinge on their own health and safety in the polar regions, or on those working with them to provide support in field. Individuals with medical conditions or disabilities including semi blindness and loss of toes due to past frostbite have been passed as medically fit for their particular job requirement.
British Antarctic Survey’s medical assessment and care is supported by the British Antarctic Survey Medical Unit (BASMU) based at Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust. In addition to medical screening and first aid training, BASMU employs the doctors for ships and research stations. Personnel on the smaller stations or operating in the field are fully trained in first aid.