With WEMski in the Italian Alps just around the corner, another group of doctors and medical professionals is soon to be heading to the cold extremes of Alta, a town in the far north of Norway, to learn medicine and survival skills that will help them on future expeditions in polar conditions.
The course has been developed for medical professionals, expedition and wilderness medics working in cold and high-altitude environments, and will run from the 4th – 10th March 2018 near Alta in Northern Norway
The Polar Medicine course aims to use the winter evenings to cover the essential expedition medical skills required to care for and treat injuries and illnesses likely to occur in this harsh environment, whilst the days are spent in the field, learning practical skills.
The course takes place over seven days and nights, and participants will encounter challenges such as shelter construction, cold water immersion and navigation. At the same time, they will learn about common cold temperature conditions such as frostbite, hypothermia and plan for these eventualities.
London-based Matt Edwards, a senior Emergency Department doctor and pre-hospital physician in Kent, Surrey and Sussex, will lead the group. He has experience of medicine in cold extremes, having spent a couple of seasons providing medical cover to scientists with the British Antarctic Survey, and supported Across the Divide Arctic dog sled expeditions.
Matt said, “With the pressures on NHS doctors and nurses constantly increasing, the polar medicine course gives medical professionals an opportunity to experience working outside of a hospital environment, in conditions that are hostile to humans.
“While the skills that they learn in Norway equip them to support expeditions into the Arctic and Antarctic regions for science, exploration or industry, we find that the attendees’ learnings serve them well on their return to clinical environments in the UK.
“The course focuses on treatment of medical conditions and situations that are common in the polar regions, but within a framework that teaches attendees survival skills in austere conditions. Doctors have to experience the challenges of moving around and living in the freezing cold in order to be useful expedition medics in these areas.”
The fact that this course is useful to hospital medicine has been recognised by the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, which awards 30 Continued Professional Development points to attendees.
Mark Hannaford, founder of World Extreme Medicine, said, “This course gives attendees the chance to test themselves in a real-life extreme environment, possibly for the first time in their careers.
“Every extreme medic starts somewhere, and we may just find that the week in Norway ignites the expeditionary spark in some of the attendees.
“From there, they can go anywhere. They could provide medical support for scientists working in Antarctica, or with more training go on to work in other exciting areas such as deserts, high mountains or in conflict zones.”
The next instalment of the World Extreme Medicine Polar Medicine course takes place in New Zealand 22nd – 27th July in New Zealand.