NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

August 8, 2012

On the road to recovery

Months after her stroke made national news, local woman sees health improving 

(Continued)

It’s this type of adventure that’s led Douceur to seek interesting jobs in foreign places for most of her life. She’s worked in England, Canada, Wyoming, Texas and Louisiana and, of course, the South Pole.

“I was on the Internet looking to see if I could find a job working in England again, when I came upon the Raytheon Polar Services site,” Douceur said. “The first sentence of the ad said, ‘Are you the adventurous type?’ “

Raytheon Polar Service was the private contractor that handled the Antarctic station for the National Science Foundation and was looking for engineers. As Douceur read on, she was hooked. She sent in her resume and heard back in two days. Shortly after, in January 2009, she was on her way to the National Science Foundation’s McMurdo Station located on the Antarctic coast, about six hours from the southern tip of New Zealand.

McMurdo has a more “temperate climate” than the South Pole, Douceur said. About a five-hour flight from the Pole, McMurdo only gets to about 50 degrees below zero Fahrenheit, she said, and she found her work there enjoyable. After eight months, RPS was so pleased with her performance, she was offered a job as the station facility engineer at the South Pole.

“I said, ‘Great, I’ll go there,’” Douceur said.

She spent most of 2010 at the South Pole station, where American scientists conduct research. With seasons reversed in the Southern Hemisphere, during winters the Pole is dark 24 hours a day and temperatures can drop to 100 degrees below zero, with violent winds that scour the continent.

“The South Pole is on land covered with two miles of ice,” Douceur said. “The station is at 9,300 feet. But its physio altitude has the effect on the human body of being at 10,000 (feet) to 12,000 feet. Breathing is very difficult all the time and most people there have difficulty sleeping.”

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