An American researcher was rescued from the South Pole Monday morning after she allegedly suffered a stroke while working at the Amundsen-Scott research station. According to a National Science Foundation official, a U.S. Air Force C-17 evacuated Renee-Nicole Douceur and took her to a hospital in Christchurch, New Zealand. The New Hampshire native works as a manager for Raytheon Polar Services.
Sources report that she reportedly started to feel ill on August 27 but was confined to the research station due to the dangerous snow storms that occur during the area’s winter season. Douceur suffered vision and speech difficulties while stranded at Antarctica’s South Pole. Despite her pleas for rescue, Raytheon Polar Services and the National Science Foundation both decided it was too dangerous to attempt an evacuation by air.
Douceur told CBS that she was “elated” to be in New Zealand but expressed concern over the time and effort it took to get her company to assemble a rescue mission. “I had thought originally that, you know, the company and the National Science Foundation would have basically taken care of any individual and not make hasty decisions, even while I was in the clinic with brain swelling.” she said, “However, I totally do understand about the logistics. I would never have an air crew come in to rescue my life if it would put them at danger.”
Although the research station’s medical staff were able to take care of Douceur, she needed stroke experts with first-rate medical equipment – both of which were unavailable at the South Pole. Douceur was tested in New Zealand and her results will be viewed by doctors at the University of Texas in Austin and the Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore to determine if she can handle a trans-Pacific flight back to the U.S.