Heard Island Expedition 1997 (Planning Documents)


David Muller VK2TQM

This is a draft document and will be used as the basis for our planned response to disaster. Note however, due to good planning and implementation of the overall expedition, I trust this document will not be needed. This document will be changed often in the next few weeks. Please consult this document often.

Issue: 1
Last update: 16 August 1996


1. Fire
2. Fall from cliff or crevasse
3. Damage/loss of stores/equipment
4. Lost person/people
5. Disaster at Sea
6. Contaminated Food or Water
7. Injury/Sickness


A: Emergency Communications and schedules.
B: Emergency Response Kits (contents).
C: SITREP - Situation Report
D: Training Requirements

1. Fire

The risk of fire will be high.


Do not smoke within a hut.
Do not smoke with in the area of generators or fuel stores
Caution when around heaters

In the event of fire

Immediate action

shout "FIRE" loudly three times.
Grab the closest extinguisher and apply it to the base of the fire.
Sound the camp fire alarm.

If you hear the fire alarm, proceed to the fire and grab more
extinguishers along the way.

The expedition leader is to take control of the fire ground.
By assessing the situation and the effort to combat the fire.
To re allocate people to where they are most needed.
To ensure ALL members are accounted for.

Equipment required

Qty of fire extinguishers - Type Compressed CO2,
Exact qty still to be determined.
Recommend, minimum one large per each fuel store, refueling and generator point
one small per each hut, or one large shared between huts as long as it it easily and quickly accessible.

2. Rescue From Depths. (cliff or crevasse).


Do not put your self or others at risk.
If traveling across ice or rough ground then rope off to each other
Test the ground before walking on it.
Do not take risks.


In the event where someone falls down a cliff or crevasse:-
1. Immediately report the incident to expedition leader.
2. Effect rescue. Use Single rope techniques to recover person(s).

Equipment required.

2 by 50Mtrs of Kernmantle Blue Water II, 11mm Rope
1 by double sheath rescue block
2 by single sheath block
1 set of dumars
8 by large "D" type krabenas.
5 lengths of tape.

3. Damage/loss of equipment


When transporting equipment ensure:-
All equipment is suitable loaded and secured. Then Double check !
That the craft carrying the equipment is not overloaded.
Spread the type of the load, ie do not put all the HF radios in the one box. If that box fall over then what do we do for two weeks? Play beach volleyball?

When setting up or using equipment:-
Take time to ensure it is set up/installed/commissioned correctly. The extra time spent here will save time later, after it fails.

4. Lost Person(s).


1. Do not go walkabout by yourself. If going a reasonable distance then a minimum of three people should go.
2. Take suitable provisions with you. Food and water.
3. Take a 1st aid kit
4. Take a hand held radio
5. Take a map.
6. Take a compass and GPS where available.
7. Regularly report to base what your location is and what your intentions are.
8. Before departure seek approval from the expedition leader, and explain your intentions.
9. Take a signaling mirror

Emergency Procedures - Help Yourself

If lost remember:-
Panic kills: collect your wits. Ensure your immediate personal safety and then assess your priorities.

1. First Aid
2. Shelter
3. Nourishment
4. Communications.

There are several ANARE survival huts - (Apple Huts), located around Heard Island.
They contain:- food, cooking equipment and three bunks.
They are found at:-
Atlas Cove (not reliable, it may have gone), map ref ??
Sydney Cove, map ref ??
Long Beach, map ref ??
Paddick Valley, map ref ??

They contain food, water and offer shelter from the weather.
The hut looks like a big apple, red in colour and about 2 Mtrs tall.

1. Retrace your steps or attempt a square search
2. Use any navigation aids
3. Establish communications with help
4. If these procedures fail, stay put, protect yourself and your party, and use signals.
5. Reassess your plans at intervals but do not hinder the chances of a search party finding you.
6. If you move, leave an indication of your intentions.

4.1 Lost individual

In unfamiliar or obscure terrain it is very easy to become disoriented, particularly in powerful winds and excessive noise. This situation can and does happen even within the station while moving between building, huts and tents. You may be ill-equipped to survive for any length of time but you will survive if you keep your head and plan your actions. Do not attempt anything that will lesson the chances of searches finding you. If a search is imminent, stay put, protect yourself and use your signals.

If an immediate search is not anticipated:
1. Do not wander aimlessly hoping to find a landmark. You will cover a lot of ground and become far removed from the location of a likely search area. If you cannot confidently retrace your steps do not attempt to do so.

2. Minimize your heat loss. Fasten your clothing to keep out snow or rain, and stay dry to prevent loss of vital body warmth.

3. Pause and think. Use available shelter or sit back to the wind and THINK. Try to remember your movements and discover where you went wrong.

4. Take note of the wind direction, it is your reference point for any subsequent movement.

5. If help may be close at hand, signal with whatever means available (shout, whistles, flares, mirrors, banging etc.) and remember to stop and listen for the sounds of searchers and others.

6. Try a square search where appropriate in the immediate area but do not be tempted to move to far on the first attempt. Proceed upwind ten or twenty steps - you may have to crawl. Then move across the wind left or right the same distance then downwind and back to your starting point having completed a square. You may not be exactly in the same spot, but you should be near to it. If nothing is found and you have not regained your bearings go up wind the same distance again and complete a square in the other direction. This process can also be repeated downwind of the starting point. The distance covered this way obviously depends on your visibility. When you are sure you have covered the four squares repeat the process with larger squares. Do not panic if the first efforts reveal nothing, after all you have only covered an area 40 square meters.

7. Go to ground before you have exhausted yourself . Lie down in the lee of a rock, tussock or drift. It is essential that you are not moving around to shelter from the wind. Make a shelter with whatever is available, bury your body as much as possible or allow yourself to be drifted in. Curl up and keep your back to the wind. Cover your face with your gloves or balaclave and calmly wait for an improvement in conditions. Keep listening for the calls of a search party. Ensure there is an obvious marker for a search party in case you become unconscious or not visible.

4.2 Lost Party

Stop ands examine the state of the party. Attend to the care of the weak and injured members. Be supportive of each other and maintain morale. Keep together unless there is an excellent reason not to. Assess the resources of the party e.g. food, fuel, shelter, communications and other equipment. Consider what SAR (search and rescue) action may be expected from others. (See section 3). If a search party is imminent stay put, protect the party and use signals.
If an immediate search is not anticipated:
If you have a radio refer to ????
Remember missed schedules may precipitate SAR action.

4.3 Search And Rescue (SAR) - Helping Others

A SAR mission may be mounted at anytime. It is important that all personnel remain familiar with location and use of all emergency equipment.
Any person may initiate an SAR operation.
There are formal procedures associated with the conduct of a SAR operation.

4.3.1 Coordination and control

Once SAR procedures have been initiated total control is to be exercised by the searchmaster.

4.3.2 Duties of a searchmaster

There are:-

Obtaining all the facts concerning the event.
ensuring that no activity occurs without their arrangement or knowledge
alerting, dispatching and coordination the activities of the search parties.
keeping the expedition leader fully informed
calling for an evaluation report form all sources

4.3.3 Phases of SAR Operation

1. Uncertainty Phase
2. Alert Phase
3. Distress Phase

Phases are used to indicate the seriousness of the SAR incident and for generally determining the action to be taken at any stage of the mission. Upon initial notification of a SAR incident, it is immediately classified into one of the three emergency phases. As the incident progresses, the emergency phase may change depending on how the situation develops.

4.3.4 Uncertainty Phase
The uncertainty phase is declared when doubt exists as to the safety of a team or person because of knowledge of possible difficulties, or because of lack of information concerning the progress or position.

4.3.5 Alert Phase
The alert phase is declared when apprehension exists about the safety of the team or person because of definite information that serious difficulty exists which does not amount to grave or imminent danger, or because of a continuing lack of information concerning the progress of position.

4.3.6 Distress Phase
The distress phase is declared when a team or person is threatened by grave or imminent danger, require immediate assistance, or because of continual lack of information concerning progress or position.

4.4 Participation In SAR Operations

Once a SAR alert is declared the searchmaster will take definite action. The actions taken depend on the nature of the emergency. For example, if contact is lost with a field party the searchmaster will:
monitor all communication systems
notify the expedition leader
ask other expeditions to be on the alert
go into an hourly listening and calling watch in addition to the normal schedule times.
broadcast 'blind' to the field party that SAR preparations are being made, to reassure them if they are listening. and
prepare search teams for possible commitment
if still out of contact:
notify the expedition leader
request 'foreign' stations to keep a listening watch
finalize preparations for SAR mission
If the field party still not head from
notify the expedition leader
roster personnel for a 24 hour radio watch, (with calling every hour).
do not allow search teams to be committed to far forward without adequate logistic support
consider placing a doctor (or 1st Aider) with search teams
maintain normal camp operations as much as possible.

4. 5 Search Techniques

4.5.1 Searching the Base Camp Area

If someone is reported missing the person in control should consider the following actions:
sound the fire alarm; the missing person may turn up on hearing it.
Thoroughly question all personnel to find out where the person was last seen, where he is likely to have gone and the persons known habits, reactions etc. Someone may have know that the person has a habit of going to a certain place. This step is most important as a great deal of time can be lost if it is not done properly. Do not be tempted to rush out in all directions or let anyone else do so.
Check all tents, huts and buildings, inside and out.
Divide the area into search zones and allocate groups to check these zones. Stress the need for these groups to stay together and check each other. (allocate a number per person, check by count). Record the names of the parties in the search area.
Make sure everybody is suitable kitted with ropes, whistles, torches, and radio. Remember even these signals may be ineffective in heavy weather.
Set the search parties off with the instructions to report back as soon as the area is declared clear. Nominate a deadline for reporting back.
Search patterns. The sweep or line search requires one person to stay close to a building or other known fixed point and the rest of the team to spread out along a rope at visible distances. Several sweeps may be necessary further away from the building depending on the number in the party. Circular or arch searches can also be made from a central point.
All areas cleared by searches should be reported by to the search control center so that search areas are not covered twice.
Debrief each search team and estimate the effectiveness of the search. Do not hesitate to re-search an area if the initial search was felt to be inadequate or suspect.
Should the lost party be found, check to ensure all the search parties are recalled and that all members are accounted for.

4.5.2 Remote Search areas

Keep a careful watch for the missing party - they may be anywhere on route. Watch out for tracks leading away from the route.
Keep regular and frequent contact with the search control, advise progress and situation report.
Mark the route taken and leave evidence of passing with flags or markers, and note left in obvious locations indication who you are, the time of passage and what your intentions are. The lost party may miss you by hours or even minutes, or pass in poor visibility.

Various search are employed depending on the limits that can be placed on the search area.
The reconnaissance search covers a large area and reduces the search area into manageable proportions. The method broadly covers the intended route of the party and the likely alternatives by looking for evidence of the party.
The general search covers all the main features in the area of greatest probability. It uses several small fast parties to cover the area. The square search technique can be used to thoroughly cover the area defined. The square search pattern can be extended as necessary to widen the area covered. The expanded square technique and the parallel track ensure that the same ground is not covered twice.
The contact search is a saturation technique in the area of highest probability. A formation of a line of people is used to cover a small area. Each person in line maintains visual contact with the next and the searches the immediate ground. This method is slow and is not used until there is reasonable certainty of success.

5. Disaster at Sea

The ship's standing operating procedures will apply.
Ensure that we are briefed by the crew.
Follow the crews instructions.

6. Contaminated Food or Water

Preventative Actions

Always secure food in suitable containers

Immediate Actions:
If food or water is suspected of being contaminated then isolate from other food.
Tag food as suspect.
Report Immediately to Expedition Leader.

7. Injury/Sickness

Preventative Actions:-
Attention to personal hygiene
Do not take risks.

Immediate Action:
If injured:- apply 1st aid.
Report immediately to medical services.

If sick: Report immediately to medical services.

Annex A: Emergency Communications and Schedules

Field Party with HI Base Camp - 146.??? Mhz FM - Hourly on the hour.
HI Base Camp with Ship hf marine ?? Daily ??

HF Emergency Marine Frequencies. 2182 kHz

ANARE Frequencies 2720, 3032, 4040, 5400, kHz
Note 4040 & 5400 are the prime operating frequencies.

Annex B: Emergency Response Kit

A folder to contain:-
A list of all members
A map of the island
A map of the camp
A list of emergency frequencies and stations
A list of emergency phone numbers
Log sheets - used to log details of response activities to disaster.
4 by headache tablets

Annex C: Situation Report SITREP

Used to convey information about the incident to a higher level of command or control.
A SITREP should only contain fact and should not include any assumptions or predictions

1. What has happened - Where - When
Overview of immediate effects from the impact of the event
Exact location, - access.
Estimate of problem - size/scope/area/dangers/numbers involved.

2. What has been done to date

Who and what is involved.
Activities undertaken to date.
What has been achieved.

3. What is being done now

4. What is proposed to be done.
What resources are required?

5. Other Considerations

Safety of other people
Contact external agencies

Annex D: Training Requirements

All members should be competent in the following areas.

The ships emergency drills
HI Fire Drill
Effective use of a fire extinguisher
Basic map and compass skills.
Basic rope work, including roping off to each other.

You are invited to make suggestions: davidm@gec.com.au

The Campsite at Atlas Cove
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Last update: 17 Nov. 1996 Robert W. Schmieder cordell@ccnet.com