Because we live in such extreme conditions (avalanche-areas everywhere, polar bear attacks, unstable ice, freezing water, glaciers,extreme weather changes, cold and heavy wind, frost injuries, among other things), all students have to have a Safety Course here. This is a little bit different for the spring and fall semester. The course is preparing us for unfavorable and dangerous situations, and in this place dangerous situations are even more life-threatening! It kind of works in 3 ways; it mentally prepare us for difficult situations, we get to practice how to work in difficult situations, and most importantly it teaches us how to avoid dangerous situations. So it is a really good course, and very intensive!
It started on Monday, but the first day we only had a lot of theory. We got a presentation by the Governor at Svalbard, had some theory about clothing in different conditions, and had a long lecture about extreme accidents happening at Svalbard. This is of course to scare us, so we don´t take chances. Taking chances at a place like this can end up costing you your life!
Tuesday we started the topic courses, and the first one was the Avalanche Course. Here we learned how we can avoid avalanches in nature, signs to look for, and what to do when an avalanche happens. We also learned how to use some equipment that will help people find us incase there is a avalanche. We went out and had some practice with the equipment, and it was really usefull! It was kind of fun, but of course having to do this when real people are buried by snow isn´t something I want to try... But it was a really good course, and I learned alot!
The second part of the day we had a Navigation course, and I learned a lot about maps that I didn´t know before. We were supposed to do some practical training too, but we did not really get the GPS to function. So I hope that woun´t happen when I need it!
Today (Wednesday) I had Rifle Training, including a lecture about how to act when meeting a polar bear. Shooting with a rifle was awesome! It was so cool! Apparently I got the shooting skills of my Mum and Granddad, so I think I wanna take the Hunter´s license here =P First we practiced how to use the rifle with "dummy-shots", shots that would not explode or hurt anyone. After that we started to shoot at normal targets, and I hit real close to the center! I also kept the shots very close to each other, which I was told is a very good sign. We tried to shoot both in a lying down position, standing on the knee and fully standing. I prefer the standing or lying down position. After we shot the normal targets, we got a different type of target. We actually each got a polar bear to shoot at! S picture, of course =P
After the rifle training and lunch, we had Practical First Aid, which was a really interesting course! We practiced a lot on what to do if we find someone here at Svalbard that need help or CPR, and learned a lot of good techniques on how we could use different equipment that we are or should carry, to help hurt people. Like I said, being in a difficult situation here can soon be life-threatening! Especially if someone are hurt! There is many mountains here, and very little road, and it can be difficult for emergency-people to reach you. Actually, it can be difficult for any people to reach you, so of course no one should move away form the city alone!
Tomorrow I will Lab-practice and a Sea Ice course. Some in the group will actually put on a safety-suit and jump in the freezing water, so we can learn how to resque them!
On Friday I will have Emergency equipment for glacier and emergency camps, that will be interesting!
Saturday will be a big day, where every one will train on what we have learned, and hopefully show that we gained the right skills. And there will be an exam we have to pass. So I will try to take pictures when it is possible, and tell you the rest later!
Take care, and put on enough clothes!
PS: The only polar bears I´ve seen so far are stuffed. And I´m very happy that I haven´t seen any alive yet, because up until today I wouldn´t really know what to do and would probably not survive (unless it was just curious and I manage to scare it away). By the way, the polar bear on the picture is right above the entrance of the grocery-shop here =P