Thursday, January 17, 2008

Sock jumping at Concordia

Concordia station is made up of two towers, a "noisy" one that houses the workshops, the power generation units, the restaurant and the living areas, and a "quiet" one that houses the hospital, bedrooms for the winterers and the science labs.

Yesterday we tested the fire escape system of the station, which we all hope will never have to be used in a real fire. It's a cotton and kevlar sock that is deployed from the second floor of the "quiet tower", where the bedrooms are. We all had a turn at jumping through it.

From the top you cannot see the ground, so there is no problem with vertigo. Once inside you press your elbows and knees against the sides of the sock to slow your descent. How slowly you descend depends on how voluminous you can make yourself relative to your weight. Two people at the base of the sock (see photo) twist it to stop those inside hitting the ground too fast.

I jumped in wearing boots and full polar jacket, and had the impression I was not dropping at all, so much so that it got a little claustrophobic. The fastest descender by far was Giorgio the cook, who caught the sock twisters by surprise. Luckily they twisted the end of the sock just in time to stop him hitting the ground like a sack of potatoes. Good thing too, as he is an excellent cook!

All in all, this counts as the most fun fire drill I have ever had.

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