Safety First at Gemini!

Gemini Draftsman , Vicente Vergara, duringt he height rescue training, trying to rescue trainer Jose Manuel Caracena

Gemini Draftsman , Vicente Vergara (left), during height rescue training. Here he “rescues” trainer Jose Manuel Caracena (right).

Gemini’s day crews in Chile and Hawai‘i ensure that nighttime operations run smoothly. Of course some of the work involves potentially dangerous situations and this is why Gemini regularly schedules special safety training courses for high-risk work activities. The engineering group at Gemini South recently participated in several special training courses coordinated by the Safety Group.

Gemini opened the training to neighboring observatories, including the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory (CTIO) and the Southern Astrophysical Research (SOAR) telescope. In all 27 observatory staff participated in training that included:

  • Dome snow and ice removal;
  • Maintenance work at heights;
  • Rescue techniques at heights;
  • Techniques for use with cranes and suspended loads;
  • Minimizing electrical risk with high voltages;
  • Use of personal protection equipment.

José Manuel Caracena led the training. José is a Spanish engineer with extensive experience in safety coordination and has worked on large telescopes around the world.

As part of his work Mr. Caracena also documented his suggested improvements and updates to procedures and safety procedures.


This month, Gemini North continued its regularly scheduled safety training courses. Simulated rescue situations included confined space rescue and rescue techniques at heights. Other topics covered utilizing rescue equipment and employing proper protocol to get an injured person to safety.

Gemini’s Safety Coordinator, John Vierra, lead the participants in the recent training, including Gemini’s Clayton Ah Hee, Joey D’Amato, Keane Nakatsu, Cooper Nakayama, Nicholas Kaluau, Rody Kawaihae, and Safety Coordinator from the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope, Jake Braden.

Plans for future sessions are moving forward.

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