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Plane En Route to Rescue Ailing Physician in Antarctica

Aired April 24, 2001 - 11:37   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: All right, breaking news here. We want to bring you on the phone Peter West from the National Science Fund. We understand a plane is en route to the South Pole to rescue that doctor that has been ill, Dr. Ronald Shemenski. Can you hear me OK, Mr. West?

PETER WEST, NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION: I can.

PHILLIPS: OK, what do you know? What can you tell us? Can you confirm this report?

WEST: Yes, my understanding is that the aircraft left Rothera, which is the British research station, at about 10:34 a.m. Eastern time for the flight to the pole.

PHILLIPS: And can you tell us who -- what type of plane this is?

WEST: It's a Twin Otter, which is a small, twin-engine propeller-driven plane which we use during the research season in Antarctica. It is flown by Ken Bork (ph), Air Limited of Canada.

PHILLIPS: OK, it is a Canadian plane. How long do you think it's going to take for this plane to reach the doctor?

WEST: They are working out the details of the actual flight time. It's probably, roughly about a 10-hour flight, but that's not confirmed yet.

PHILLIPS: And where will the doctor be brought to once he is rescued?

WEST: Well, he will be evacuated and brought back to Rothera and then the flight plan calls for him to fly back to Chile, to Punta Arenas, and then he will return wherever it is he wants to go in the states.

PHILLIPS: Can you give us an update on Dr. Shemenski's condition right now?

WEST: Well, the issue with Dr. Shemenski has never been his condition day-to-day, minute-to-minute or hour-to-hour. The reason that we are flying him out of South Pole and replacing him with another physician is that there is a probability, however small, of a relapse in the gall stone condition he had and if that were to occur, that would be a very serious thing. And so prudence dictates that we fly him out, if we can, and replace him with another physician to take care of the 49 other people on the station.

PHILLIPS: Mr. West, can you tell us who his replacement is?

WEST: The doctor's name is Betty Carlisle. She has a lot of experience in Antarctica and, in fact, was the physician at McMurdo Station, the main U.S. station, this past summer. But she has also been on the ice before and is well-known by people in the program.

PHILLIPS: All right, well, it's good to here a plane is on the way and that Dr. Shemenski will get some attention for his condition. Peter West, thanks so much for joining us, National Science Fund. We appreciate it.

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