So what does it take to get PQed? A dental, full medical history, a complete physical, several vaccinations, and extensive panels of bloodwork. The dental requires complete x-rays and checkups for gum disease, cavities, and presence and absence of wisdom teeth. Vaccinations for the flu, tetanus, diptheria, pertussis, measles, mumps, and rubella are standard. The physical is a compete head to toe, inside and out body inspection to assess overall health which also includes filling out several pages of your personal medical history. The blood work assesses compete blood chemistry, blood type and iron, hepatic and lipid panel, and if you are a carrier of pathogens (e.g. STDs, HIV, Hepatitis). I also got an electrocardiogram (EKG) and provided a urine sample. I had to pay out of pocket for all the tests (~$600) but well worth to get deployed to "the Ice".
Why the extensive health tests? Deployment to Antarctica means living in a remote environment. Health complications are much more serious because of the limited access to emergency healthcare. The nearest hospital to Palmer Station is a 4 day boat-ride across the Drake Passage (with these sorts of conditions); no flights go in and out of Palmer Station. Also, the small base of operations means that if one of us brings a virus on base, all of us will likely get infected.
When I finally got the email that said, "This is to inform you that you have been Physically Qualified (PQ) for deployment." I did a happy dance.
Jackson W.F. Chu
Jackson is a marine biologist, photographer, and dog-owner. This blog will try to be heavy on the photos and light on the text.