Rob Jones/NSF via Getty images

Antarctic Treaty flags fly at McMurdo Station.Rob Jones/NSF via Getty images

THE GIST

- The Australian Antarctic program is providing its A319 Airbus and a specialist medical team to McMurdo.

- Medical evacuations from Antarctica are relatively infrequent, with the last such rescue taking place in October 2011.

An Australian medical team and government jet were sent to Antarctica Wednesday to assist in the rescue of an expeditioner from the United States' McMurdo Station base.

The Australian Antarctic Division, a branch of the government's environment department, said the US National Science Foundation had requested assistance in an emergency mission, the details of which were not immediately clear.

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"The Australian Antarctic program is providing its A319 Airbus and a specialist medical team to help," the AAD said in a brief statement about the operation.

"The Australian team will be positioned in Christchurch (New Zealand) later today and will fly to McMurdo Station when weather and light permit."

AAD director Tony Fleming said all nations with an interest on the icy continent "work together very cooperatively in these sorts of emergency situations in Antarctica to provide support when and as required."

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Further details were expected to be released later by US authorities.

Medical evacuations from Antarctica are relatively infrequent, with the last such rescue taking place in October 2011, when a US scientist was airlifted from McMurdo after suffering a stroke at the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station.

Approximately 30 nations operate permanent research stations in Antarctica including the US, China, Russia, Australia, Britain, France and Argentina.