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And then the helicopter came – the accident

No fancy fieldwork pictures this time. Instead an update of the type “shit happens”. I’ve been waiting for something like that to happen for many years, doing all sorts of risky stuff. Now I finally managed and of course it didn’t happen while doing crazy stuff, but on the way home at the end of a field day (one of several in a row). Driving home with a snowmobile and a heavy sledge, just ten minutes away from town. One last steep, bumpy and narrow downhill bit followed by a 90°turn. The sledge pushing too much, leading to the snowmobile picking up too much speed, me not being able to break enough, the snowmobile leaving the track, followed by a close inspection of a rock with my left leg (maybe that’s why they entered geologist as my occupation in the hospital). Luckily enough I ended up falling into the snow next to the rock, realizing immediately that I wasn’t able to move my leg anymore. Luckily my colleagues where on the spot very fast, started to keep me warm and called for help. I’m quite happy to have successfully protested against the implementation of the recue services suggestion to just strap me on a sledge and drive me down to the hospital. It’s good to have undergone a lot of mountain rescue training and know about potential issues that can arouse from that. So rather lying in the snow for an hour, waiting for the helicopter to arrive. Painkillers, proper leg stabilization with a vacuum system and still a lot of pain, then on a sledge, down the hill to where the helicopter was waiting.

Now I’m a member of the infamous super puma club on Svalbard as well, but I must say that the view is much better when sitting upright in the helicopter. Fantastic support from the air rescue team and the hospital in Longyearbyen as well as colleagues. Really glad for that. Turns out that I suffered an upper leg fracture with internal bleedings. Nothing that could have been treated in Longyearbyen. Normally the procedure would see me being flown to Tromsø, but due to two avalanche accidents there in the last days, the hospital there was more than happy to get me sent straight to Oslo. Lots of painkillers later and I got a “business class” flight with berthing place in the ambulance plane down to Oslo. Don’t really understand why people would pay money for a berthing place when the view is so much better when sitting upright. Took exactly eleven hours from the accident until arrival at the hospital in Oslo (quite impressed by that timing). A lot more drugs and surgery last night, I’m now a man of steel or titanium. Already able to stand up and carefully walk again. Really amazed by all the fantastic support I got along the way and the well working emergency response system. Huge thanks to everyone involved!