Ocean Medicine Course: Meet our expert teaching faculty

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We’ve brought together a remarkable teaching faculty for our Ocean Medicine course taking place in Plymouth; a group of world-renowned ocean explorers, sports people and logisticians, all with an amazing depth of experience, and achieving notable success in the face of extreme challenge and adversity. They will be sharing their extensive knowledge and skills to give you a comprehensive understanding of how to lead and provide medical cover in an aquatic environment.

Meet this highly specialised team who will be delivering an unrivalled syllabus of content on our ocean medicine course:

Dr Nick Carter, Doctor and Expedition Yacht Skipper

Dr Nick Carter - WEM facultySince he graduated from medical school in the late 1980s, Nick has pursued his career in musculoskeletal medicine through the British Military. He underwent much of his specialist training in Oxford and also as a research Fellow in Sports Medicine in Vancouver. In the past 10 years, his passion for high latitude sailing has brought an additional enthusiasm for expedition medicine

Nick has always loved sport, whether it be rugby, as a Canadian qualified snowboard instructor or, in the last 20 years, sailing. He has sailed over 60,000nm and across some significant ocean passages including the Southern Ocean around Cape Horn, the Antarctic peninsula on a couple of occasions, the Northwest Passage and various trips to the Arctic. More recently, he has sailed into the Central Arctic Ocean from Alaska to greater than 800 North and also with expeditions including research into elements of ocean advocacy including cetaceans and sea ice.

Dave Pearce, TV and Film Producer and Safety Consultant

Dave Pearce - WEM facultyDave has travelled the globe during his military service of 25 years as a Royal Marine Commando and in his current profession of 14 years, as a television and film producer and safety consultant. He predominantly works with presenters going to extreme, dynamic and hostile locations, including working on approximately 90% of shows presented by Bear Grylls.

He was very proud to serve in the Royal Marine Commandos for over 25 years, seeing operations across the globe including a number in Afghanistan, former Yugoslavia and Northern Ireland. As a Commando he was embedded in many operations during the cold war and has also trained Commandos in tac-tics and specialist warfare as well as combat survival and evasion.

Dave embraces challenges including summiting Everest in 2003, returning again in 2006 as well as being a member of the first successful British ascent of Kangchenjunga, the world’s third highest mountain. He made an early British ascent of El Capitan, joined Bear Grylls as a team of 5, navigating a RIB through the North West Passage and have had many other extreme expeditions. As well as being a published author and a volunteer the Sidmouth lifeboat team.

Laura Penhaul, Physiotherapist and Ocean Rower

Laura Penhaul - WEM facultyLaura Penhaul is passionate about helping teams or individuals to perform at their best and she draws on her extensive experience, both personally and professionally, in high performance sport and expedition.

She was the Team Leader of the Coxless Crew who set 2 World Records in January 2016 rowing unsupported across the Pacific. 9,000nm, taking 9 months to complete and 4 years to prepare for. This remarkable expedition was captured in the documentary “Losing Sight of Shore”.

Laura previously was Lead Physiotherapist for the Paralympic Programme of British Athletics and worked at Vancouver, London and Rio Paralympic Games. Currently she is Lead Physiotherapist for the Olympic British Sailing Team, supporting them through to Tokyo 2020.

In 2017, Laura was the Performance Manager for Mark Beaumont, where she supported him in his preparations and during his World Record achievement of cycling the World in 78 Days. Alongside this, Laura was the Performance Lead for the Adaptive Grandslam, where she has supported the first ever veterans with disabilities to summit the 7 peaks and 2 poles in their Performance preparation.

In her spare time, you’ll find Laura on the North coast of Cornwall, where she’s a RNLI lifeboat crew volunteer and loves to stay active running or swimming on the coastline. 

Beth French, Ocean Swimmer

Beth French - WEM facultyFrom wheelchair bound to world class athlete, Beth French stretches the horizons of her own possibilities, tackling seemingly impossible feats of endurance and adventure. Beth suffered with ME from the age of 10, and by 17 she was in a wheelchair. Overcoming debilitation, she forged a path to ultimate health her own way.

Beth spent 8 years adventuring and studying natural health practices abroad, apprenticing with some of the world’s leading indigenous health practitioners and even spending a year ordained as a Buddhist nun in Thailand.

Over the last 8 years, she has taken on some of the world’s toughest swims, and even charting her own pioneering routes including:

* English Channel
* Molokai Channel
* Cornwall to Isles of Scilly
* Catalina Channel
* Cook Strait
* Straits of Gibraltar

She has recently turned her attention from distance to temperature and swims in waters down to zero degrees, with plans to take on polar swims, without a wetsuit, in the very near future.

* First British woman to swim Molokai channel
* Only woman to swim Molokai Channel twice
* First person to swim Cornwall to Isles of Scilly
* Current joint record holder for most Oceans 7 channels in a single year – 4

Nikki McLeary, Adventure Medicine Business Owner & University Lecturer

Nikki McLeary - Ocean Medicine Course WEM FacultyNikki has a background in Sports Science, Human Performance and Science Publishing previously working with elite extreme athletes such as Vendee Globe sailors and Formula 1 drivers in the areas of sleep, stress, nutrition and fitness.

She then spent 15 years overseas, across multiple locations, operating her own adventure company (winter mountain/desert/ocean). She is the founder of R.R.A.M (a training platform for non-medics to learn life-saving skills for remote travel) and was recently appointed Honorary Senior Lecturer (Sports & Health Sciences) at Exeter University with the purpose of developing training programmes for field scientists operating in challenging environments.

Nikki has numerous published articles in outdoor adventure publications, is a qualified Swiftwater and Flood Rescue Technician, plus keen windsurfer, kitesurfer and sailor. But she isn’t a pirate… yet. Still time!


Grant Walkey, Owner and MD of Trident Training & Consultancy and Paramedic

Grant Walkey, Ocean Medicine Course WEM FacultyGrant Walkey has been involved in search and rescue for over 20 years, specialising in water rescue combining skills as a former firefighter and as an RNLI lifeboat crew, beach lifeguard, and Flood rescue team member and adding advanced skills clinically as a paramedic.

Grant is the owner and managing director of Trident Training & Consultancy which specialises in Rescue, Medical and Safety and also works as a bank paramedic for both SWAST and SCAS ambulance services in Cornwall, Dorset and Hampshire. Grant also teaches for a number of other companies specialising in maritime training and STCW certification.

Grant was a full-time staff member of the RNLI for 11 years serving initially as a sea survival and lifeboat trainer then as a Casualty care trainer and finally as the Clinical Training Manager, managing a team of paramedic trainers delivering the RNLI medical courses.
Grant maintained training others throughout this time for the RNLI but also on the ATACC faculty and for SLSA GB.

Grant maintains his operational rescue skills by also volunteering for his local lifeboat station at Mudeford in Dorset and being on the RNLI Flood rescue team.

Grant shares his knowledge, skills and experience as a consultant and trainer specialising in maritime rescue, safety and medicine wherever he can to help educate to help others or themselves.

Join us in Plymouth; learn with this incredibly experienced and knowledgeable team, and be part of something amazing.
Book your Ocean Medicine Course place today!

Other Ocean Medicine course blogs that may be of interest, include:

WEM Antarctica: Exploring the National Geographic Explorer ship

A visit to Antarctica is like no other, equally challenging as it is rewarding, the awe-inspiring landscapes and superb wildlife-viewing opportunities make for a once in a lifetime trip. Taking at least 2 days just to cross the Drake Passage to reach the Antarctic Peninsula, it is one of the furthest and most unique places to visit and on our Antarctic Extreme Medicine mini conference cruise you travel in style aboard the National Geographic Explorer ship.

As one of the most recognisable expedition vessels in the world, she has won awards for the quality of her itineraries, the like of which you will experience during this conference cruise as well as for the high calibre of staff onboard – we guarantee you won’t be disappointed. The National Geographic Explorer offers the added luxury of comfort and delivers a quality of shipboard life designed to relax and rejuvenate body, mind, and spirit.

Here is just a small selection of the highlights on board the National Geographic Explorer ship, that will help bring extraordinary adventure and amazing experiences to your trip:

  • A full set of exploration tools including 5 landing Zodiacs and 36 two-person kayaks that can be deployed at a moment’s notice in order to take advantage of unplanned sightseeing opportunities, as well as undertake scheduled excursions and landings ashore.

  • Remotely operated vehicle to see beyond the range of any diver and uncover the secrets of the deep.

  • A range of photography equipment including high definition cameras and a crow’s nest camera to provide footage to your in-cabin TV as well as projected into the ship’s lounge.

  • 3 underwater microphones to hear the marine mammals and experience remarkable ‘chatter’ in real time

  • The opportunity to visit the captain and their officers on the bridge and learn more about what it takes to navigate a ship in the polar regions

  • A highly trained National Geographic expedition team comprised of a veteran expedition leader, an undersea specialist, a certified photo instructor plus a team of 8 naturalists with specialities including zoology, geology and polar history. This experienced team will lead a daily programme of briefings, excursions and insightful lectures.

Upon embarking the expedition ship in Ushuaia, Argentina on Day 2 of the itinerary, your adventure at sea will begin and for the next nine days will be your home away from home. The ship plays host to 148 guests and you will soon make yourself comfortable in one of the 81 cabins spread across the ship’s Main, Upper and Veranda Decks; an inviting sanctuary, perfect after an active day. For those choosing a cabin with a private veranda, take a moment (or two) to watch the spectacular scenery drift by in slow motion.

Once on board, life is very casual. Feel free to roam the ship, exploring the nooks and crannies, mingle with like-minded new-found friends and head out on activities led by the naturalist whose interests mirror your own. You are free to do as much or as little as you like with experiences and activities tailor-made to your requirements which makes each day of your expedition uniquely yours, and deeply rewarding. No one day will be the same during your explorations, and day-to-day itineraries will change depending on conditions, allowing you to take advantage of rare wildlife sightings, watching whales feed off the bow, or even enjoy a pre-dinner kayaking excursion.

National Geographic Explorer ship

You’ll discover the lounge is the heart of the expedition community; where you can gather and discuss the day’s events, sort out your photography files with the resident photographers or simply just sit back and relax with binoculars at the ready. The bow is also a great place for staff and guests to converge, to scope out the landscape and scan the water for marine mammals or those seeking a quiet corner, escape to the windowed library with its abundance of books.

When you can find time amongst your busy schedule to eat, breakfast and lunch are buffet style and dinner is served. Whether you choose the dining room or one of the ship’s more casual dining spaces the food is delicious, all freshly prepared with ingredients often sourced from local ports and fisheries. You’ll always find an open station for hot and cold beverages, plus afternoon tea and cookies for when you’re feeling a little peckish in between excursions.

For the early birds, greet the polar mornings with a pre-breakfast stretching session led by the wellness specialist or sleep in and use the fitness centre at your own pleasure. There is even an onboard spa where you can take advantage of one of the many massage therapies and body treatments available, the perfect relaxation after an active day of exploring.


Inspired? You too, could be joining us on this truly epic expedition, experiencing jaw-dropping scenery, amazing wildlife encounters and learning from some of the world’s experts. Take your career to the next level!

Other blogs that may be of interest:

WEM Dive Medicine: where you can train like a NASA Aquanaut

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In a unique collaboration with Florida International University and Aquarius Reef Base, we have developed THE ultimate Dive Medicine course for you. As well as focusing on dive medicine and hyperbaric emergencies, you will be learning from one of the world’s most experienced Dive Medical Teams and have the opportunity to follow in the footsteps of NASA astronauts and stay overnight in the world’s only permanent underwater science habitat Aquarius Reef Base; the place where NASA astronauts through the NASA NEEMO space analogue programme train for missions onboard the International Space Station.

Using the Aquarius Reef Base, an underwater world located off the Florida Keys in the Carpenter Basin on the floor of the Atlantic Ocean, the incredible WEM faculty team will introduce you to the exciting world of dive, undersea and hyperbaric medicine. It’s here you’ll learn to work with the environment, overcome the obstacles of the water, increase your knowledge and skillset and experience a once in a lifetime opportunity of being able to train like a NASA aquanaut.

Throughout your time on the course, the educational methodology will include fascinating lectures and training from dive medicine experts at Aquarius Reef Base (ARB), NASA NEEMO and the Department of Defense, who bring with them an incredible wealth of dive and medical knowledge. You’ll listen to and discuss real-life case presentations, have printed support materials to enhance your learning, plus the opportunity to enjoy practical ‘hands-on’ exercises out in the field.

As with all the World Extreme Medicine courses, we’ll provide a practical training course that endeavours to make those attending more comfortable using the medical skills they already have in an austere environment.

Our Dive Medicine course enables attendees to:

  • Be better equipped and confident in recognising and providing the right assessment and treatment when in an undersea environment.
  • Acquire and develop dive medicine skills to ensure you have the necessary working knowledge to evaluate and manage diving medicine injuries in an operational environment.
  • Enhance knowledge and skills relating to understanding, diagnosing and treating illnesses in an underwater environment such as decompression illness, inert gas narcosis, oxygen toxicity and high-pressure nervous syndrome, acute dysbaric disorders, plus understanding the thermal considerations of diving.
  • Understand and develop new dive techniques such as saturation and hard hat diving to further enhance your skillset.

What will I learn on a WEM Dive Medicine Course?
The Dive Medicine course trains physicians and healthcare professionals to recognise, evaluate and treat diving medical and hyperbaric emergencies in one of the world’s most unique locations – Aquarius Reef Base. In addition to lectures on the physiology and medicine of diving, you’ll receive highly practical experience operating and working hyperbaric recompression chambers, and the use of commercial and military diving equipment, which will include an introduction to scientific, hard hat and saturation diving.

At the conclusion of this course, participants will have a working knowledge to evaluate and manage diving medicine injuries in an operational environment. Plus, all course attendees will receive a Diver Medic Technician qualification issued by the National Board of Diving and Hyperbaric Medical Technology.

Who should attend this course?
This course is ideal for medics (Physician, Doctor, Nurse* or Paramedic*) wishing to pursue a career in Hyperbaric Medicine, who currently work or would like to work as a Dive Expedition Medic and who are working on remote or recreating on remote dive sites. This dive medicine course offers a unique learning opportunity, whether you are looking for a one-off experience or need to learn new skills for your job.

* 3 years post-national registration

If you need any further guidance, here are 4 excellent reasons to attend our Dive Course:

  • Expert team – our team are one of the world’s most experienced Dive Medical Team with a huge pedigree in the field. They will be drawing on their own extensive and personal experience, sharing their extreme knowledge and skills and giving you a comprehensive understanding of evaluating and managing diving medicine injuries.

  • Once in a lifetime opportunity – when else are you able to dive and stay overnight on the world’s only underwater habitat – Aquarius Reef Base. So unique, fewer people have stayed here than have summited Everest!

  • Hands-on experience – enjoy practical ‘hands-on’ experience working hyperbaric recompression chambers, and the use of commercial and military diving equipment to include an introduction to scientific, hard hat and saturation diving.

  • Further your career – enhance your knowledge and increase your skillset to ensure you are in the best position possible to further your medical career and become a more effective and highly valued practitioner. For those attending and completing the course, accreditation will be offered (we estimate 40 hours of CPD) through the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh. After successful completion of the course exam, participants will be awarded the Diver Medic Technician qualification issued by the National Board of Diving & Hyperbaric Medical Technology.

WEM Founder, Mark Hannaford says:

“There is nothing quite so surreal as living and breathing on the bottom of the ocean and staying in the Aquarius Habitat ranks as one of life’s most amazing experiences. This has to be the most extraordinary of WEM’s already exceptional courses with world-class dive medicine teaching delivered by some of the worlds most experienced experts, using a mix of emergency decompression chambers combined with living on the ocean floor! Also, you end the week with the title ‘Honorary Aquanaut’, which is a pretty standout achievement!”


Our Dive Medicine Course comes highly recommended from past course attendees:

Dr Shawna Pandya, Dive Medicine – Aug 2019

Find out more about our Dive Medicine courses and take your medical career to the next level – book your place today! 

#WEM19 Speaker Sacha Dench Appointed as UN Ambassador for Migratory Species

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We’d like to extend a huge congratulations to Sacha Dench (former WEM conference speaker) who has recently been appointed as a UN Ambassador for Migratory Species.

Sacha Dench is a pioneering conservationist, champion sportswoman and record-breaking adventurer, famously named the “Human Swan” for her paramotor journey following the Bewicks swan migration from the Russian Arctic to the UK – has been applauded for her creative and daring approach to highlighting the issues surrounding the plight, and tragic decline of many migratory species.

Sacha joined two other appointees – conservationist Ian Redmond OBE and award-winning Bollywood actor and expert equestrian Randeep Hooda – all three in recognition of their achievements in raising awareness of threatened migratory species and their habitats.

With a 20-year track record as a conservationist and motivational speaker, Sacha is the co-founder and CEO of “Conservation without Borders”, a charity that supports leading conservationists and scientists by creating media, public and political support for their work.

Sacha’s flagship project was a courageous three-month expedition called the “Flight of the Swans” that brought international attention to the conservation status of the Bewick’s Swan. She flew a paramotor solo over 7,000 km across eleven countries from the arctic region in Russia to the United Kingdom. The Bewick’s Swan is a European endangered migratory bird that is subject of an International Single Species Action Plan developed under the African-Eurasian Waterbird Agreement.The expedition engaged millions of people along the flyway, gaining public interest and significant media attention.

Sacha plans to replicate the success of the “Flight of the Swans” with a new expedition called the “Flight of the Osprey” that aims to highlight the threats faced by migrating Osprey and other wildlife. This paramotor expedition will follow the Osprey’s western flyway from the UK, across the Mediterranean Sea and finishing in Ghana. This mission will provide a unique bird’s-eye-view of the Osprey’s migratory route whilst collecting vital data on the challenges faced along the way. As a champion free diver Sacha will also investigate the underwater world so important to the fish-eating ospreys, including sampling for pollutants and plastics at critical sites.

Sacha Dench said:

“Many vulture species will actively fly with a paraglider, sharing thermals. It is amazing to be so close to these magnificent creatures and get a glimpse into their world of moving air and thermals that is invisible to us from the ground. Flying with them in key areas could also give us unique and engaging insights into our world below from their point of view – from why power lines and turbines are a problem in certain areas and what we could do about it, to understanding their preferred routes and roosting sites, and what senses they might be using to identify food, and why they are subject to poisoning. And on their long journeys, what other threats might they face that scientists might not yet have seen from the ground”. 

Ocean Medicine Course: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s)

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We asked the aquatic-ninja WEM faculty, leading our Ocean Medicine Course, the answers to these frequently asked questions:

What is Ocean Medicine?
Ocean Medicine provides you with the opportunity to adapt your medical skills to work in what can only be described as a very challenging environment. Not only in terms of the presenting clinical cases, but also because your ‘clinic’ will be moving, rolling, wet, possibly too cold or too hot, not to mention a confined space with limited kit!

What will I learn?
The main focus of the medical content will be around casualty care in ocean and marine settings. You’ll learn how to drive a rib which you don’t get on a Jungle or Desert Medicine (!) course; operate in the confined space of a real operational 2-man Atlantic rowing boat; and experience engaging lectures from RNLI associated faculty, swift water & flood rescue faculty, Navy, Sports Scientists and Physiotherapists.

You’ll be immersed in practical scenarios that have real-world application and have the opportunity to network with our expert faculty who between them have extensive aquatic-based experience. There is also the option to enjoy cold water-immersion to experience a patient’s perspective in addition to a dynamic rib-based rescue of the elite extreme ice swimmer Beth French. Basically, it’s a brilliant course with a huge amount of take-home skills.

Who would benefit from attending an Ocean Medicine course?
Anyone that would like to operate in an aquatic environment (marine-based challenges, sporting events, ocean swims, extended sailing trips and expeditions) or an outdoor environment in general. Attendance on this course reflects a candidate who has learned core skills such as risk assessment, expedition planning, incident management and situational awareness.

I’ve not done one of your courses before, can I still join?
You’ve got to start somewhere and this engaging, practically orientated and hugely
informative Ocean Medicine course would be a great way to kickstart your extreme medicine career.

I’m new to medicine, is this for me?
Definitely for you, why wait when this course is ready to book? All the core skills such as enhanced decision making, leadership, communication, strategic thinking, confidence, good followship and empathy can be applied to your everyday work. Don’t overthink it, just book and let us make sure you have a brilliant learning experience!

Do I have to get in the water?
No, not if you don’t want to. We encourage it so you can see the perspective of a patient, but it’s not a necessity.

I’m scared to drive a rib
Don’t be as you will be taught by qualified instructors before being let loose on the controls.

I really want to attend, but I’m shy
Our faculty are super nice, and you won’t be targeted to answers any questions unless you choose to volunteer.

How could attending further my career?
By attending a WEM course you have direct access to a well-connected expert faculty. As market leaders in preparing medical professionals to work in challenging environments we have many attendees who go on to work for WEM projects such as the U.S Survivor series or as faculty themselves. It opens up a whole range of new lucrative possibilities you may not have yet considered.

If you want to open up your medical career and mix adventure into your career, then this is the course for you!

To find out more information about our Ocean Medicine course or to book your place on what we promise will be an incredibly inspiring 4 days on the water, please click here.


Other blogs that may be of interest, include:

Expedition and Wilderness Medicine: Are you looking to add adventure to your career?

Our internationally renowned Expedition and Wilderness Medicine courses are designed to be the most comprehensive introductory training course a medic can be part of. Opening up a new world of extreme medicine, we believe they make the perfect ‘entry-level’ for any aspiring medic looking to mix adventure into their career.

Using the hilltops of the UK and Slovenia as your training ground, the WEM faculty team, who bring an incredible wealth of exploration knowledge and working in austere environments to the course, will introduce you to the exciting world of expedition and wilderness medicine. It’s here you’ll learn to work with the environment, overcome the obstacles of the mountains and increase your knowledge and skill set.

Throughout your time on the course, you will be provided with universal guidelines on how to treat patients in a wilderness or expedition environment. You’ll learn new skills through participation in practical group work, enhanced simulations and from our expert faculty during informative and engaging lectures. There will be opportunities to share knowledge and your own experiences in group discussions, as well as examining best practice around scene management and high-stress situations. On the last day of your course, you’ll combine all of your newly learnt skills to locate, rescue, treat and evacuate a casualty in a real-life simulation exercise.

As with all the World Extreme Medicine courses, our aim is to provide a practical training course that endeavours to make those attending more comfortable using the medical skills they already have in an austere environment.

Our Expedition and Wilderness Medicine courses aim to enable attendees to:

  • Be better equipped and confident in providing the right assessment and treatment when on an expedition and in a wilderness environment.
  • Acquire and develop extreme medicine skills that can be used in any austere environment as well as specific skills applicable to expedition and wilderness medicine.
  • Enhance knowledge and skills relating to understanding, diagnosing and treating illnesses in extreme environments such as at altitude and in hot and cold environments, plus specific dentistry, fracture management and wound care traumas when presented.
  • Understand and develop the non-technical expedition skills required in a wilderness environment such as pre-expedition planning, communication, navigation and trekking, plus evacuation and rescue scenarios.

What will I learn on an Expedition and Wilderness Medicine Course?
Our Expedition and Wilderness Medicine courses are a great example of an amazing training programme on the ground in some of the most scenic landscapes. As part of the medical training, you will cover areas such as pre-existing medical conditions, wound care, and RTC management. You’ll be learning and talking a lot about the types of illnesses and injuries that might occur at altitude and in hot and cold environments, as well as dealing with potential traumas associated with expeditions in extreme conditions. There will be discussions with real-life case scenarios and the opportunity to learn non-technical skills and survival skills, a necessity when participating on an expedition.

Who should attend this course?
This course is open to any doctor, nurse, paramedic or other medical professional wanting to increase their knowledge and skillset in expedition medicine. Our courses offer a unique learning opportunity, whether you are looking for a one-off experience or need to learn new skills for your job. Many of our Expedition and Wilderness Medicine course alumni are now taking part in expeditions across the globe, responded to natural disasters and emergencies or have gained placements with organisations such as Raleigh International, UK-Med, Team Rubicon and Médecins Sans Frontières.

It’s perfect for potential and existing expedition medics looking to take their medical skills into the extreme, physicians who want a higher level of understanding or anyone wanting to work in an austere environment, as a lot of the core field skills learnt can be transferred across the various environments.

If you need any further guidance, here are 4 excellent reasons to attend an Expedition and Wilderness Medicine Course:

  • Expert team – our expert Expedition and Wilderness Medicine team will be drawing from their own personal and extensive experience, sharing their knowledge and skills and giving you a comprehensive understanding of how to lead and provide medical cover on expeditions.
  • Hands-on experience – throughout your week with us you’ll learn clinical skills and field-proven techniques that will ensure you leave the course feeling confident in your ability to lead and keep your expedition team healthy whatever the environment.
  • Earn CPD credits and further your career – enhance your knowledge and increase your skillset to ensure you are in the best position possible to further your medical career and become a more effective and highly valued practitioner. For those attending and completing the course, accreditation will be offered (we estimate 30 hours of CPD) through the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh.
  • Expedition topics explained – during the course you’ll explore many topics including standard operating procedures for an expedition, pre-expedition planning, basic navigation and communication, security on expeditions, rope skills, mental health on expeditions, aeromedical evacuations, plus a Maxillofacial trauma workshop.

Our Expedition and Wilderness Medicine Courses also comes highly recommended from past course attendees:

“This course is a great leveller! Whether you have a medical background, are just passionate about expeditions, humanitarian work or just spending time out in the hills, you’ll learn something new from everybody you meet and probably teach them something too.

The faculty were very knowledgeable and really approachable. The week opened my eyes to new possibilities as well as areas to brush up on before undertaking my next expedition.

I’d highly recommend this WEM course, whether you’re new to remote/expedition medicine or not, there always seems to be something new to use to improve your practice and it’ll certainly build your confidence.”

Lauren, EWM Corfe Castle – Oct 2019

Find out more about our Expedition and Wilderness Medicine courses and take your medical career to the next level – book your place today!

Other blogs that may be of interest, include:

Set sail and join our ground-breaking Ocean Medicine Course

As the human race continues to seek new challenges and experiences an aquatic environment offers a vast playground of extreme adventures, and in turn employment opportunities for extreme medicine specialists. Our unique ‘Ocean Medicine’ course is specifically designed to prepare you to operate safely and competently in this exciting setting.

Packed full of practical workshops, real-time scenarios, and interactive lectures this ground-breaking programme includes an understanding of conditions likely to occur during a marine based expedition, oceanic sporting event, or extreme off-shore race. In addition, the learning is applicable to any aquatic environment covering the basics such as CPR adaptations for drowning victims to the serious considerations of working on an isolated Antarctic ship and all the logistical medical planning that would require. There is a heavy emphasis on situational awareness, human factors and incident management during emergency situations.

As with all the World Extreme Medicine courses, our aim is to provide a practical training course that endeavours to make those attending more comfortable adapting their medical skills for austere environments.

Our Ocean Medicine courses aim to enable attendees to

  • Be better equipped and confident in providing the right assessment and treatment when in an aquatic environment both above and below the water.
  • Acquire and develop extreme medicine skills that can be used in any challenging environment as well as specific skills applicable to marine medicine.
  • Enhance knowledge and skills relating to understanding, diagnosing and treating common medical conditions, trauma, and marine specific considerations prevalent to this environment.
  • Understand and develop the non-technical skills required in an aquatic environment such as situational awareness, communication, medical kits, plus evacuation and rescue scenarios.

What will I learn on an Ocean Medicine Course?
Throughout your time on the course you will be provided with universal guidelines on how to treat patients in an aquatic environment; attain new skills through participation in highly practical group work that have real-world application; learn how to drive a rib and operate in the confined space of an operational 2-man Atlantic rowing boat; receive informative, engaging lectures from RNLI associated faculty, swift water & flood rescue faculty, Navy, Sports Scientists and Physiotherapists; be presented with excellent networking opportunities; engage in knowledge sharing during peer-led group discussions; enjoy an optional cold water immersion to experience the patient’s perspective; and take part in rib based rescues of the elite extreme ice swimmer Beth French.

Who should attend this course?
Anyone who would like to operate and provide medical support in an aquatic setting, or any outdoor environment, that involves water whether sea or freshwater.

If you need any further guidance, read our blog ‘Ocean Medicine Course: Take your medical career in a new direction’ for more reasons why attending could be perfect for you!

 WEM Founder, Mark Hannaford says:

“We’ve pulled together a team with a wide range of specialisms and experiences because the world’s oceans – and the medical conditions that we have to prepare for – vary so much.

Our aim is to combine lectures, workshops and discussions with hands-on experiences on land and at sea to give course participants insight into the things that can go wrong when diving, ocean rowing, swimming or sailing.

The UK, and Plymouth especially, has a proud history of oceanic exploration and we’re certainly still a world leader in terms of maritime expertise. The fact that we’ve been able to pull together such a diverse but experienced team is testament to this country’s seafaring past.”

Our Ocean Medicine Course also comes highly recommended from past course attendees:

Had such a brilliant time on this course last year. Heading off to be an expedition medic in a remote diving environment next week and feel prepared after this course. Can’t recommend it highly enough!”

Sarah-Anne, Ocean Medicine – May 2019

Join us in Plymouth; learn with this incredibly experienced and knowledgeable team and be part of something amazing. Book your place today!

Other Ocean Medicine course blogs that may be of interest, include:

Ocean Medicine – take your medical career in a new direction

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Our ground-breaking 4 day Ocean Medicine training course in Plymouth is designed to give medical professionals a highly practical and immersive training experience for any Ocean-going events and expeditions. So, if you’re wanting to provide medical cover for water-based expeditions – this is the course for you! It’s also a great refresher for anyone already working in the field.

4 excellent reasons to attend our Ocean Medicine course:

Further your career – this course has been specifically designed for medical professionals who might be interested in supporting marine-based challenges, sporting events, ocean swims, extended sailing trips and expeditions. World Extreme Medicine course alumni have left to take part in expeditions across the globe, responded to natural disasters and emergencies, gained placements with leading organisations such as Raleigh International and Médecins Sans Frontières, as well as set off to swim Cape Horn, row unimaginable distances and help others achieve their lifetime ambitions on the water.

Earn CPD credits – for those attending our Ocean Medicine course, accreditation will be offered (we estimate 24 hours of CPD for the complete course) through the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh. Our course provides the perfect opportunity to increase your ocean and marine medicine skill set enabling you to become a more effective medic.

Highly practical training experience – our highly qualified team will deliver content through practical and fully immersive workshops, lectures and group discussions which will involve a significant amount of time on the water and working in small groups. You’ll learn clinical skills and field-proven techniques that will ensure you leave the course feeling confident in your ability to provide medical cover on a water-based expedition.

Expert team – led by our expert WEM faculty we have developed the best curriculum for this course through consultation with a group of world-renowned ocean explorers, sportspeople and logisticians. Using their combined expertise and vast experience this pioneering course will provide you with real-world skills and an understanding of conditions likely to occur whilst on a marine-based expedition.

Join us and experience our Ocean Medicine course for yourself. Be part of something amazing and take your extreme medicine career to the next level.

Book your place today!

Other blogs that may be of interest, include:

Doctors look after our health, but who looks after theirs?

It’s increasingly recognised that the NHS is chronically understaffed and under-resourced. Ask any doctor currently working in a UK hospital, and they will refer to ‘corridor medicine’ becoming the norm along with 4 hour waits to see a doctor. General Practice is just as bad with GP’s and family doctors reporting waiting times of up to nine weeks for appointments and six times the average number of patients per GP.

In today’s society, we know medics are incredibly busy, working and making the best of a bad situation to ensure the health and wellness of others is at the top of their priorities. What they won’t necessarily tell you is how these working conditions affect their own health and wellbeing and how they are expected to adapt to this new-found ‘normal’ with increased working hours, spiralling workload and lack of support, all while still providing the gold-star standard of care every patient deserves.

With current working conditions as they are, it’s not surprising to read that last year according to findings published in the MBJ Open medical journal, 55% of UK doctors met the criteria for burnout and ‘emotional exhaustion’, with one in five resorting to the use of drugs or alcohol as a ‘coping strategy’. Indeed, a British Medical Association survey of 4,300 medics in April 2019 revealed worrying levels of burnout with junior doctors suffering the highest burnout rate across the medical profession at 91% and GP partners, who co-own surgeries, came second, at 88%.

These findings raise concerns, not only for the health of NHS workers, but also the quality of care patients are being provided with. While it’s through no fault of the doctors (blame extreme workloads and rota gaps), it does show us that work-related stress can no longer be ignored. Not only is it affecting the physical and mental wellbeing of doctors, which could lead to severe health problems, it’s also meaning doctors are leaving their careers early as they simply can’t cope, which in turn adds additional stress to a system that is already operating at maximum capacity.

In 2018, according to the annual United Kingdom Foundation Programme Office (UKFPO) survey, it found just 38% of second year doctors chose to continue their careers in the NHS and enter speciality training (including general practice) – compared to 83% in 2010! This has been compounded by a crisis at the other end of a scale, where up to 69% of consultants have had to cut their hours due to punitive pensions tax.

But, what can we as a society do?
Firstly, we need to realise that if we don’t start looking after our doctors, we won’t have anyone left to look after our patients. Doctors are human beings; they need and should have access to a wide variety of support networks both in their place of work and within the wider medical world. We need to make it easier for them to take decompression breaks, whether it be as simple as giving doctors access to an on-call room where they can get their heads down or allowing time off for personal reasons.

There also needs to be flexibility within the system to allow for career development, not just on a medical skill level, but also on important subjects such as leadership and resilience where medics can engage and come away with the tools they need to thrive and feel better equipped to deal with challenging work settings both at home and across the world. It’s something we personally feel very strongly about here at World Extreme Medicine (WEM). There is nothing more important than our mental health, it’s integral to our physical health and our ability to be the best medics we can be, which is why we set up WEMski – a mini-conference concentrating on mental health and resilience for medical and allied healthcare professionals.

In fact, resilience and mental health are key themes introduced and discussed across all of our WEM courses and feature heavily within the content. Our courses also provide a way in which medics can stay healthy within their job role by providing a reconnection with the type of medicine they signed up to in medical school. Quite often we find by going back to basics, working as a team, problem solving and thinking outside the box without the pressures of everyday life, it means the passion and energy they originally had for medicine is revitalised and they leave not just with new skills, but also with a new sense of purpose and a network of support with like-minded individuals they wouldn’t have otherwise had.

Another great example of this forward thinking is nicely illustrated by the Clinical Fellowships offered by the Royal Devon & Exeter Hospital Foundation. The team have recognised that to attract high quality middle grade doctors for their Emergency Department, they need a more flexible outward looking recruitment policy. They have teamed up with the Exeter University Medical School to offer an exciting 3-year MSc Fellowships in Extreme Medicine as part of a unique post that combines working in the emergency department, whilst completing all of the modules of the Masters Degree in Extreme Medicine.

Has this worked for the department?
The jury is still out, but the initial pilot resulted in 100% retention and students reporting that they were returning to their posts with improved team-working and problem solving skills, alongside a greater understanding of the interplay of complex human factors that is a day-to-day occurance in a busy ED.

WEM Founder, Mark Hannaford says:

I am dedicated to being part of the future solution to help medical professionals attain a better work/life balance that ultimately encourages them to stay in medicine. It’s important that they do so, that they have the opportunity to escape the pressures of their medical career by changing pace, gaining new knowledge and useful experience, so as well as returning to their team happier people, they are also returning as more effective clinicians.”

An Australian Firefighter’s Insider View of the Australian Bushfires

We’ve all been watching or listening to the horrific stories currently coming out of Australia regarding the record-breaking fire season and Australian Bushfires, which is now the nation’s biggest-ever catastrophe; with current estimates of 18.6 million hectares of land having burnt, over 5,900 homes destroyed and at least 29 people killed. Not to mention an estimated one billion animals killed and potentially endangered species driven to extinction.

Its long-lasting effects are as yet unknown, although according to NASA the smoke from the bushfires is expected to make at least one full circuit of the globe, affecting air quality around the world before returning back to Australia. By studying smoke plumes, the space agency has already been able to see that by 8th January the smoke had travelled halfway across the world, reaching South America, spreading over Buenos Aires, before drifting into the Atlantic Ocean.

It’s a natural humanitarian disaster, the like of which has never been seen before. Due to its extreme and complex nature – including the political implications a disaster of this scale brings – many questions have been raised around the world: Where was its source and is climate change the probable cause? Was enough done leading up to ‘bushfire season’ to prevent and control the spread of fires?

To gain an objective and informative perspective, we found Drew Strunk. An Australian Firefighter and Logistics Manager for Backpacker Medics (BPM), he has over a decade of experience in Fire and Rescue and numerous emergency response fields – including humanitarian relief.

Drew Strunk on the Australian Bushfire Crisis

Drew Strunck, Backpacker MedicsBeing a firefighter in Australia a lot of people have asked me for my opinion on the current bushfire crisis – so let’s talk about the fires.

First of all, does being a ‘firery’ give me all the insight to this complex issue? Not even close – and I need to make that clear. However, there is a lot of false science and outright lies being peddled on social media as ‘news’ or ‘facts’ that I would like to set straight



Hazard Reduction Burns (HRB)
No – ‘The Greens’ political party haven’t been stopping hazard reduction burns from taking place. I believe we still do them and yes, we should absolutely do more of them. It’s unfortunate that due to the weather extremes and droughts its significantly reduced the window in which it’s safe to perform these burns, but they should continue.

Yes – the state governments need to invest more money in HRB’s. New South Wales (NSW) for example, as an estimate, would need to increase their budget from $100million to a half billion, a five-fold increase – that money needs to come from somewhere.

Yes – national parks, wildlife and nature reserves need to burn as well, but I appreciate this is hard to do. They are, after all, the sanctuary’s for Australia’s fauna that can no longer survive in the farmlands and housing estates we’ve constructed. And as we’ve seen from the current Australian bushfires, indiscriminate burning of national parks can, and has, literally wiped species off the face of the earth as they often have nowhere else to go.

Yes – indigenous people used to manage the land through burning and have an important contribution here. However, Australia is a different landscape now, home to 24 million people and so HRB’s needs to be managed differently.

Yes – conditions have been so bad this season that fires have still burnt through areas where hazard reduction burns were completed earlier in the year.

Climate Change
No – climate change is not physically starting fires. Lightning strikes, people, negligence and other factors are to blame. BUT climate change is contributing to increasing temperatures and increasing drought severity, which is creating worsening fire conditions and a longer fire season.

Yes – we should have acted on climate change long ago. All of us. The whole world. Everyone. No-one knows exactly how much climate change has contributed to exacerbating the conditions for this year’s catastrophic fire season, but the best science available and the general scientific consensus is that there is an undeniable link.

Aerial Firefighting
Yes – as the fire season grows longer and northern and southern hemisphere fire seasons overlap more and more, Australia will have to invest in its own aerial firefighting fleet and not rely on leasing from overseas. Perhaps we should have done this earlier. We didn’t.

Politics and the media
Yes – these fires have been politicised and yes, our media is politicised.

If you’re left-leaning and read Fairfax newspapers, you’re more likely to blame Scott Morrison (Australia’s Prime Minister) and the government right now for their response. If you’re right-leaning and read News Ltd newspapers you’re more likely to blame The Greens right now for ‘stopping’ hazard reduction burns. Your social media is politicised in the same way and will show and share media that supports your general position and most likely strengthen your own existing narrative.

No – a video on Facebook of a guy in the bush screaming at The Greens is not a ‘fact’ about what caused these fires. A video of someone shouting at Scott Morrison for not funding the NSW Rural Fire Service (state gov funded) is not a ‘fact’ about what caused these fires.
Has Scott Morrison done enough? Should he have gone on holiday? If you know me, you know I’m left-leaning, so my answer will naturally contain a bias.

The best solution? A royal commission. Let impartial experts tell us what went wrong and how to act in response to it. I think you’ll find we’re all a little bit ‘right’ as well as a little bit ‘wrong’.

What can we do to help?

Right now, the simple answer is to donate – any amount you are able to spare will massively help the relief effort now and over the course of the next few months as the land and the Australian people recover. Always do your research and donate wisely, but here are a few reputable charities to start you off:

Clinical Fellowships in Extreme Medicine

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The three-year part-time clinical fellowships in Extreme Medicine at the Royal Devon & Exeter NHS Foundation Trust are the perfect bridge to bring your passion for medicine and adventure together.

You are Specialty Registrar in Emergency Medicine?  A team player with bags of enthusiasm and a passion for learning with demonstrable expedition, humanitarian, military or disaster medical experience.  NHS Job Reference 185-A-20-83032

The Royal Devon & Exeter Hospital is looking to appoint to a unique clinical fellowship post combining both a substantive post in Emergency Medicine and an opportunity to complete the renown MSc in Extreme Medicine at the University of Exeter (UEMS).  This post would be applicable for doctors working at ST2 -ST4 grades. The successful applicants will join our team in the emergency department working on either the junior doctor or middle grade rota, dependant on experience, whilst completing all of the modules of the Masters Degree in Extreme Medicine. Course fees will be sponsored by the Acute Trust for the 3 year duration of the post providing satisfactory progress is deemed to have been attained.

Extreme Fellowships from World Extreme Medicine on Vimeo.

The RD&E Emergency Department is a modern progressive Department supported by a dedicated team of 10 full time Consultant Emergency Physicians providing shop floor leadership from 0800 – 2200 hours, 365 days a year.  The Department enjoys round the clock Middle Grade cover, with 3 SHOs overnight and is supported by a team of Emergency Nurse Practitioners. The Emergency Department in Exeter is one of a very small number nationally to have been afforded an ‘Outstanding Rating’ in the new style CQC inspections in 2016 and prides itself on its aspiration to deliver the highest possible standard of care for all patients at all times. The Department is a Major Trauma Unit and employs a 24hr Consultant led Trauma Team and enjoys excellent working relationships with all of the in-Hospital specialties.

The Department has established a reputation for supporting those interested in pursuing the Certificate of Eligibility for Specialist Registration (CESR) and a number of the existing Middle Grade cohort are being mentored in activities to complete this. The post will provide the appointed clinical fellows with the training opportunities and support required to successfully complete all aspects of the CESR process, with an experienced educational supervisor to help direct completion of the College portfolio. Links are available with acute medicine, paediatrics, anaesthesia and intensive care to undergo the periods of secondment required to complement successful CESR application.

The Department is involved in a number of multi-centre national research projects offering successful applicants experience in research. The hospital is the principle hospital of UEMS and there will be opportunities to participate in formal teaching activities.

The course attracts the wider healthcare community – paramedics, nurses, doctors, and military medics. Students will be working or looking to work in situations of rapid change and uncertainty and will be looking to demonstrate capabilities that extend beyond clinical competence into areas such as leadership, communications, teamwork, resilience, humanitarian relief, planning and logistics. The programme’s foundations are rooted in the core values of collaboration, challenge, community, impact and rigour, embedded firmly within the University’s and World Extreme Medicine’s mission to make the exceptional happen, by challenging traditional thinking and defying conventional boundaries. This is medicine at its best, crossing geographical and professional boundaries.   The courses modular structure allows you to follow your specific interests is taught by a world-class faculty which includes NASA astronauts, special forces medics, humanitarian nurses and expeditioneers.

The MSc program is widely considered ‘best in class’. Outside learning partnerships include the University of Texas Medical Branch in Houston, the European Space Agency, UK Special Forces, Florida State International University Aquarius Reef Base to name but a few.

Year 2 will see you being offered the opportunity to become involved in the famous WEM Conference which is the world’s largest gathering of medical professionals interested in extreme medicine and in the past has included speakers such as Dr David Nott, NASA Medical Director JD Polk and Eddie the Eagle! Entry for Year 3 entry as a delegate in free along with the opportunity to present a poster exhibition of your dissertation project.

We strongly believe that undertaking this Clinical Fellowship will enhance your medical career combining a position in one of the regions premier ED’s with studying on one of the world’s most innovative learning programs at a Russel Group University.

‘To those that live in Devon, it’s probably no secret, but a survey in Country Life Magazine found that those living in the county simply enjoy a better quality of life than anywhere else in England’

The successful applicants will be expected to possess competences across the whole range of UK based Emergency Medicine practice. Applicants will be expected to have completed at least two years’ full time postgraduate training to include at least six months in Emergency Medicine.  Previous applicants need not apply.

Please refer to the NHS Job Description for full details and how to apply for a Clinical Fellowship.

For any specific question relating to the post at RD&E please email Dr Adam Reuben at for queries regarding the MSc program content please email Mark Hannaford at

This initiative is a collaboration between World Extreme Medicine, the University of Exeter Medical School and the Royal Devon & Exeter Foundation Trust.


POST: Trust Doctor/ Specialty Registrar in Emergency Medicine / MSc in Extreme Medicine

  1. GRADING/EQUIVALENT: Middle Grade ST1 / ST2, Registrar equivalent
  2. DURATION OF POST: Posts are available from August 2017 and will last for the duration of the higher qualification (3 years). There may be some flexibility in the application of this.
  3. SALARY SCALE: £36,461-46,208 plus out of hours payment
  4. ANNUAL LEAVE: 27 days per year (pro rata for LTFT)

STUDY LEAVE: the post will be split 80:20 between the role in the Emergency Department and the MSc in Wilderness and Extreme Medicine at the University of Exeter. The successful candidate will be employed on the existing middle grade rota in the Emergency Department and released for the compulsory components of the MSs            programme. Study leave will be incorporated into the time required to complete the relevant modules. 

  2. The post is subject to the Terms and Conditions of Service of Hospital Medical and Dental Staff as amended from time to time.

All appointment to Trust posts are subject to:-

  • Appropriate Registration and License to Practise with the General Medical Council
  • Satisfactory Medical Examination including documentary validated evidence of Hep B, Hep C and HIV
  • Satisfactory clearance with the Criminal Records Bureau
  • References covering the last 3 years to date

 A well-established Foundation Trust, the Royal Devon & Exeter Hospital provides acute services to approximately 350,000 people in Exeter, East Devon and Mid-Devon with the support of nearly 6000 staff.  Further information about the Trust can be found at

The Department staffing currently comprises:

Medical Consultants (11.6 WTE)

Mr Chris McLauchlan

Dr Gavin Lloyd

Dr Tony Hudson

Mr Peter Riou

Dr Lewis Jones (Lead Clinician)

Dr Andy Appelboam

Dr Adam Reuben

Dr Steve Fordham

Dr Cassie Worth

Mr Andy Ketchin

Dr Alex Cross

Dr Richard Crosthwaite-Eyre

Dr Jo Webber

15 Specialty Doctors (10.9 FTE)

3 ST6s (2 FTE)

2 rotating ST4s

2 rotating ST3s

3 Extreme Medicine (WEM) doctors (2.3 FTE)

3 CT1s (ACCS)

3 GPST2s (2.6 FTE)


8 Trust Grades – with 1 vacancy (6.4 FTE)

2 F2s

5 F1s

Nursing 1 Band 8a

6.13    Band 7

10.9     Band 6

35.89   Band 5

5.5       Band 3

1.8       Band 2

The Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital Emergency Department is a busy District General department, seeing approximately 95,000 patients per year, of which, approximately one third are children. Approximately 7,000 patients p.a. are followed up in various “in-house” clinics.

The Department has been computerised with the MSS Patient First system. This has produced improved tracking and communication with GP’s and has, with the collection of coded data, provided an excellent database for audit and research.

The unhealthy secret behind the surge in helicopter evacuations in Nepal

Letter from Dr. Nick Mason, Chair of Trustees International Porters Protection Group UK

International Porters Protection Group UKDear Friends and Colleagues,

It is with great sadness that I have to report the forced closure, with immediate effect, of the International Porters Protection Group rescue posts in the villages of Machermo and Gokyo, Nepal.

For the last 17 years the International Porter Protection Group (IPPG) and Community Action Nepal (CAN), and in recent years with the support of the Mountain Medicine Society of Nepal (MMSN), have quietly and efficiently been operating a porter shelter and rescue post in the village of Machermo at 4450m above sea level. During the last decade they have been operating a similar facility in the neighbouring village of Gokyo at 4800m. Some of you will know the area well having worked for IPPG as volunteers.

In October of last year, without warning, a small private clinic in Kathmandu opened a satellite clinic in one of the lodges in the centre of Gokyo. Last season the clinic was staffed by a doctor qualified for less than one year and with no experience of altitude or travel medicine. He attended IPPG’s altitude talk for lay people and said that he learned a great deal! The business model for the new clinic would appear to be to evacuate as many trekkers as possible to Kathmandu where it is alleged they are often subjected to excessive or fictitious investigations and treatment. Those trekkers not evacuated are frequently subjected to excessive and sometimes dangerous over treatment and polypharmacy. Last season’s volunteer doctors for IPPG had the impression that up to 50% of patients seen at the new clinic were evacuated by helicopter compared to IPPG’s rate of around 5% and then only the most seriously ill. The helicopter company used for the majority of the evacuations from the new clinic is owned by a major shareholder in the Kathmandu clinic.

Many of you will be aware that IPPG’s funding for the free care of porters and local people comes from treating trekkers and charging them for this care. This just about covers the operating costs of the 2 rescue posts. With the new clinic opening in the centre of Gokyo and, for the first time since IPPG began working in Gokyo, hostility and abuse towards IPPG’s doctors from those lodge owners associated with the new clinic, trekkers attending the IPPG-CAN rescue post have already begun to fall. This would obviously have an impact on our ability to fund our work and so we had begun to look at the possibility of alternative funding arrangements. but unfortunately the Khumbu Pasang Lhamu Rural Municipality (local government for the Khumbu) have refused IPPG permission to operate in the Gokyo Valley for spring 2020 and subsequent seasons. Without this permission it is impossible for IPPG’s doctors to obtain a work permit and without that registration with the Nepalese Medical Council. The Khumbu Pasang Lhamu Rural Municipality has been in existence since 2017 and it seems more than a coincidence that it is only with the opening of the new private clinic that permission for IPPG to work in the valley has now been refused. It has proved impossible to engage in any discussion with the Rural Municipality.

In the 17 years that the posts have been open, thousands of patients have been treated; hundreds of lives have been saved and in excess of 30,000 people have attended the daily Altitude Talk and been educated on altitude illness and, even more importantly, how better to take care of porters. Tragically it is highly likely that with the loss of the medical and educational roles of the rescue posts, as a direct consequence of the decision of the Rural Municipality, deaths from avoidable altitude illness will increase in the Gokyo Valley.

We hope that the much needed porter shelter in Gokyo will continue to function. The shelter in Machermo has been a victim of its own success and a number of tea shops have subsequently opened in the village specifically to provide porters with cheap food and accommodation. It is now rarely used by porters. Prior to the opening of the shelters, porters slept in the open, under tarpaulins or in caves while the trekkers whose kit bags they had carried all day slept in warmth and comfort.

We have always viewed ourselves as guests of the Sherpas of the Gokyo Valley, having been originally invited into the valley by the local community and the Sagamartha National Park, and it has been a privilege to serve them. We looked forward to the day when we would be able to hand over the rescue posts and porter shelters fully to the Nepalese. Despite increasing difficulties over the last few years we did not envisage that we would be forced to stop caring for the porters and trekkers visiting the Gokyo Valley in such an abrupt manner. Nepal has undergone huge socio-political changes during the past decade and it is clear that for some influential people in Nepal our help is no longer welcome. It will be for the talented and inspirational young doctors of the MMSN to choose how to face these new challenges. It is to be hoped that they will strive to uphold the highest standards of medical practice in mountain medicine in Nepal and that they will be ably and robustly supported in this task by the international mountain medicine community.

Best wishes,


Dr. Nick Mason PhD, FRCA, FFICM, FRGS, Dip Mtn Med,

Chair of Trustees, IPPG(UK)
Registered Charity Number: 1143221

Meet the team behind our Expedition & Wilderness Medicine course in Keswick

We’ve brought together a remarkable teaching faculty for our Expedition & Wilderness Medicine course taking place in Keswick this March; all with an amazing depth of experience, living and working in the most remote corners of the world and achieving notable success in the face of extreme challenge and adversity. They will be sharing their extensive knowledge and skills to give you a comprehensive understanding of how to lead and provide medical cover on expeditions.

Meet this highly specialised team who will be delivering an unrivalled syllabus of content:

Burjor Langdana – Expedition Dentist

Burjor Langdana, WEM facultyBurjor is both a past consultant dentist for the British Antarctic Survey Medical Unit and a resident expedition dentist for AdventureMedic. He has many years’ experience in Expedition/Wilderness and Remote Access Dentistry, having first become interested in this specialism while running dental camps in remote parts of India (where he did his Masters in Oral Surgery), and later when working in the Sultanate of Oman.

Burjor deepened and broadened his expedition medical experience through spending four seasons in the Antarctic; working as a VSO dentist in Malawi and working with Mobile Surgical Services in New Zealand.

The contributing author and editor for the dental chapter in the new Oxford Handbook of Expedition and Wilderness Medicine, Burjor has written numerous articles about his specialism, which have been published in AdventureMedic and in the dental section of competency guides for remote health care practitioners and expedition medicine. He has also lectured extensively on his subject and provides phone and email support for event medics.

His main passion these days is to train medics in the dark art of Expedition Dentistry, through running intensive yet interesting hands-on workshops.

Emma Figures – Medical Doctor

Emma Figures, WEM faculty

In her life before medicine, Emma lived in a caravan in Wales, worked as a healthcare assistant, travelled solo around the world having never been on a plane, hiked the Himalayas, studied Geography at Cambridge and volunteered in Nepal, China, India, Sri Lanka and Zambia (Teaching, Tsunami relief and TB hospices). After graduating, she taught in Geneva and undertook an internship at the UN and WHO, where she attended the Human Rights Council and World Health Assembly.

She then returned to Cambridge to study Medicine and ventured to Borneo for her elective (in a busy city ED and rural jungle clinic). After Foundation training in Cornwall and a Mountain Medicine course in Morocco, Emma returned to Kathmandu with Nepal Critical Care Development Foundation and has subsequently pursued a colourful career in expedition medicine and education.

Her expedition medic work has taken her on charity cycles in Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Sri Lanka and hiking challenges in Iceland, the Grand Canyon and Kilimanjaro. She also had the chance to work in Fiji with the famous Dr Joe for the US reality TV show Survivor. Closer to home, she has worked as an Event Medic for a Children in Need Ramble and in the Brecon Beacons with Across The Divide.

Emma completed a PGCE during her clinical teaching fellowship at Birmingham University, before flying off to warmer weather (and Category 5 hurricanes) in the Caribbean, where she was as an Assistant Professor at Saba University. She is now back in the UK for GP training, but continues to dream of faraway places and enthusiastically teaches on expedition medicine courses dressed as a magical unicorn – true story!

Karen O’Neill – Advanced Clinical Practitioner

Karen ONeill, WEM faculty

Karen O’Neill is an Advanced Clinical Practitioner experienced in emergency care and humanitarian aid. She graduated from the University of Manchester with a Bachelor of Honours Nursing degree in 2003. In 2012 she attained a postgraduate Master of Arts degree in Humanitarianism and Conflict Response and in 2019, a Master of Science degree in Advanced Clinical Practice.

Karen’s career has been divided between Emergency Department nursing in the National Health Service and the humanitarian sector.

Karen is experienced in humanitarian development, disease outbreak control and crisis and disaster response. Most recently she worked on the Save the Children migrant crisis response, where she worked as an emergency nurse at sea on their search and rescue programme in the Mediterranean.

During the West Africa Ebola Crisis, Karen worked as Medical Adviser for the UK National Ebola Response Programme providing assistance in Sierra Leone and in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan, she was a member of the UK International Emergency Trauma Register team. The crew provided emergency medical care to populations living on remote islands that had been injured during the disaster.

Karen has worked in both hospital settings and community outreach posts in Uganda, as well working on a programme delivering primary care to slum-dwelling communities in Mumbai. In addition to this, she has enjoyed leading training programmes in paediatric care in a hospital in Malawi. Karen also continues to offer her support to a charity that assists children with chronic ongoing illness needs in South West Uganda.

In 2016 Karen’s contribution to international nursing was recognised by the University of Manchester who presented her with an Outstanding Alumni of the Year award.

 Ben Watts – Paramedic & Expedition Leader

Ben Watts, WEM facultyBen has been a Paramedic since 2014 and is a Critical Care Paramedic on the Thames Valley Air Ambulance.

He has a background in Whitewater paddling and big river expeditions and has climbed virgin Peaks in Kyrgyzstan and cycled the Jordan Bike trail. Ben has interests in Expedition medicine and has been a medic on a number of remote expeditions. He also has a particular interest in human factors, CRM and performance under pressure, both within pre-hospital medicine and the expedition arena.


Abbi Forsyth – Anaesthetics Clinical Fellow

Abigail Forsyth, WEM facultyAbbi is an Anaesthetics clinical fellow currently working at Chesterfield Royal Hospital and is also currently completing the RCSEd Diploma in Mountain Medicine (DiMM).

Abbi has been involved in providing medical and safety cover to ultra-endurance running races in the UK for a number of years and has had the privilege of working on races such as the Berghaus Dragon’s Back Race TM and Salomon Skyline Scotland TM.



Wayne Auton – Specialist Retrieval Practitioner

Wayne Auton, WEM facultyWayne is a Specialist Retrieval Practitioner with the Emergency Medical Retrieval Service operating out of Glasgow, providing enhanced pre-hospital trauma care. The service also conducts specialist transfers of critically ill or injured patients from remote and rural locations across Scotland.

After leaving the Royal Marines and becoming a paramedic in 2009, Wayne has held various positions as a HEMS paramedic with Helimed 76 and Helimed 5 and more recently as a winchman on a Search and Rescue helicopter.

With a passion for anything to do with mountains and mountaineering he is also a member of a Scottish mountain rescue team and is keen to find ways to improve and develop pre-hospital care for avalanche patients. To keep fit for the mountains Wayne also enjoys Brazilian jiu-jitsu.

Jodie Sage – ED Trainee

Jodie Sage, WEM facultyJodie is an ED trainee in Wessex, battling to balance getting outdoors with an ED rota.

She has extensive expedition experience having completed expeditions on every continent as well as taking a keen interest in endurance events. Jodie has a wide range of hobbies from trail running to knitting, triathlon to baking, skiing to sea kayaking and you can often find her on an adventure riding a tandem bicycle. Jodie has spent the past year in New Zealand where despite her best efforts she didn’t quite become a pro surfer or pro ski tourer.

In addition, Jodie maintains an interest in global health and has worked on projects in different developing countries focussing on sustainability within healthcare.



Neil Sambridge – Consultant in Anaesthesia

Neil Sambridge, WEM facultyNeil is a consultant in anaesthesia, major trauma and pre-hospital emergency medicine.

He works at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals (an adult major trauma centre) and on two regional air ambulances (Yorkshire and the East Midlands). Neil has also been a volunteer with the Edale Mountain Rescue Team and Derbyshire Cave Rescue Organisation for many years. He is also a strategic medical advisor for the East Midlands Ambulance Service and a major incident lead for Sheffield Teaching Hospitals.

Neil has climbed and caved in many places across the world including winter climbing in Scotland and the Lakes, aid climbing in America and Canada, chalk cliff climbing on the south coast, via ferrata in the Dolomites, caving in France, trekking in Nepal and sea stack climbing in Scotland. His expedition experience includes Iceland and Kyrgrzstan.


Mel Watts – GP

Mel Watts, WEM facultyMel is a GP with a keen passion for expedition medicine.

She has been fortunate to work on youth development expeditions in Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Canada and has also worked on multi-stage ultra-marathons, including in Namibia.

Mel loves the sea and when she isn’t working is a keen traveller, her most recent trip was cycling the Jordan Bike Trail.

Jim Moonie – HEMS doctor

Jim Moonie, WEM facultyCurrently London based, Jim completed his emergency medicine training in June 2018 and has since been working as a HEMS doctor for Essex and Herts Air Ambulance. In 2021 he will be undertaking a secondment with London’s Air Ambulance.

Prior to studying medicine, Jim undertook a French degree during which time he spent a year living on Reunion Island in the Indian Ocean. From this grew a passion for living and working overseas, which along with his love for climbing and other outdoor pursuits, he has since combined with his medical career.

His involvement with wilderness medicine began at medical school in Bristol. He attended a number of wilderness medicine courses, spent two months working in a remote mission hospital in Rwanda and two months studying at the Institute for High Altitude Pathology in La Paz, Bolivia.

He has climbed widely, visiting the French Alps on a regular basis and with trips further afield including the Bolivian Andes, the Southern Alps of New Zealand, East Africa and the Nepal Himalaya. He has also been involved in exploratory mountaineering trips to Greenland and Kyrgyzstan. In 2007 he completed the New Zealand Coast to Coast Race and in 2013 ran (walked) the Yukon Arctic Ultra (100 mile race).

In 2013 he was a medical officer for Extreme Everest, based in Pheriche for the season. This was followed by an extended period out of training during which time he worked as a critical care retrieval doctor in Darwin, a ski field medic in New Zealand and was a clinical fellow in pre-hospital care and emergency medicine in Bangor. Recently, he has been the medic on several trips to Namibia and has worked for Exile medics, providing ultramarathon support for the Jungle Ultra in Peru and, on three occasions, for the Ice Ultra in Northern Sweden.

He is a holder of the DIMM and the DTMH and plans to sit the Dip IMC in the near future.

Hannah Kittson – Emergency Medicine Registrar

Hannah Kittson, Emergency Medicine RegistrarHannah is an Emergency Medicine Registrar in the East of England, but mostly wishes she was in the mountains. She is a qualified Mountain Leader, and aspirant International Mountain Leader, having been involved in expeditions with school groups for many years.

When she’s not working on her Diplomas in Mountain Medicine and Tropical Medicine, you can find Hannah involved in providing medical cover for multiple, often remote, outdoor sports events including ultra-marathons, open water swimming, triathlons and mountain biking. If that’s not enough, when she’s not in the mountains, Hannah will often be found at Silverstone where she works regularly as a motorsport doctor.



Luca Alfatti, Senior Paramedic, Expedition Leader and Remote Paramedic

Luca Alfatti, WEM facultyLuca is a HCPC registered Senior Paramedic Team Leader, who holds a BSc (Hons) in Paramedic Practice and is currently undertaking a masters in Advanced Practice.

In addition to this he is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, Wilderness Expedition Medicine Faculty Member, PHTLS instructor, Mountain Leader and Water Rescue Technician. Luca is also a HEFAT instructor, delivering hostile environment training to journalists both in the UK, before deployment and in country, during deployment. He also works as a volunteer and fundraiser with Team Rubicon, which is a disaster response humanitarian organisation working both in the UK and overseas.

Luca had always dreamed of travelling EVERYWHERE and in 2005 he eventually drove his own Ford Probe from New York City to Panama City and has never looked back! Luca became an overland driver and mechanic and during this time worked and travelled in over 100 countries across 5 continents. In 2015, Luca was then looking for a new venture and qualified as a Paramedic, with a view to combining this with his love of travel. In the last 5 years he has lead expeditions in places such as Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran and Chad – to mention a few! Thanks to all those years working on the road his dedication was recognised, with him winning the Wanderlust Expedition Leader of the Year Award in 2012 and awarded a bursary, which he used to set up a sustainable, income generating, community project in Antigua, Guatemala to support women and their children who have been victims of domestic abuse. This project continues to run to this day.

Luca’s work has featured in magazines including Trek and Mountains and Adventure Travel, as well as National Geographic Traveller, which featured his world first crossing of the Dash e Lut Desert, in Iran, in 2015. He is currently writing a publication for Paramedic Insight narrating his experience as an expedition medic, for an unsupported winter snow shoe crossing of Spitzbergen.

Luca does not only lead all his trips but, has often designed the trips himself and acts as either expedition leader/medic or both.

Join us this
March in Keswick; learn with this incredibly experienced and knowledgeable team, and be part of something amazing. Book your place today!


Other blogs that may be of interest, include:

Why Antarctica provides the perfect extreme classroom

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Extraordinary adventure is guaranteed when you visit Antarctica, one of the last great remote wildernesses on earth and also one of THE most exciting! The ‘White Continent’ as it is affectionately known, harbours one of the most hostile, majestic and ecologically abundant environments known to man. It will at once inspire and challenge you, making it the perfect location to experience a once in a lifetime trip

Here is why Antarctica is a place like no other:

It’s quite simply another world
Antarctica offers captivating landscapes, which you’ll not witness anywhere else in the world. Immense glacial icebergs of all shapes and sizes float in pools of turquoise blue meltwater and stately mountains soar up to 9,000 feet from the sea. You’ll be enchanted by its icy scenery and exotic sights, and drawn in by the tranquillity and eerie silence, broken only by the sudden cries and chattering of its native seabirds.

Sir David Attenborough said:

At a time when it’s possible for thirty people to stand on the top of Everest in one day, Antarctica still remains a remote, lonely and desolate continent. A place where it’s possible to see the splendours and immensities of the natural world at its most dramatic and, what’s more, witness them almost exactly as they were, long, long before human beings ever arrived on the surface of this planet. Long may it remain so.”

Adventure around every corner
Travelling to the southern-most point on the map and the depths of the white continent is a huge adventure in itself. You are after all exploring one of the most pristine and untouched places on the planet. During your expedition you’ll experience the Zodiac – a small lightweight inflatable boat, which will take you out amid towering icebergs. You’ll hike to a snow-capped summit and enjoy breath taking views, kayak along a cliff-side rookery in search of blue-eyed shags and sunbathing crabeater seals, or step ashore amid a huge colony of chattering gentoo penguins. Wherever you look, unforgettable sights will astonish, and delight, leaving you with memories that will last a lifetime.

The climate
Stating the obvious – it’s cold. This snow and ice-covered continent has freezing temperatures all year round, although during our expedition, we will be travelling in the Southern Hemisphere’s summer, so the average air temperature in Antarctica will be between 30 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit (-1 to 4.4 degrees Celsius). As long as you’re dressed appropriately, you’ll quickly acclimatise to your new temperatures – there’s something truly wonderful about a polar environment that makes you feel alive.

Antarctica Extreme Medicine ConferenceBecome part of Antarctica’s story
Due to its extreme weather and far flung location, you’ll become part of Antarctica’s history, being one of the very few people to have visited this amazing part of the world. With no permanent human habitation and only you, your ship mates and any scientists and long-term travellers you meet along the way, your unique experience means you will have an incredible story to share. In the words of the famous 14th century traveller, IBN Battuta said: “Travelling – it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller

You can only imagine the encounters you’ll have and the mesmerising stories you’ll come back with after this ‘once in a lifetime’ expedition.

Antarctica Extreme Medicine ConferenceThe wildlife
Catch an authentic glimpse into the lives of an array of wild animals all within their natural habitat and many without fear of humans – meaning you can quite often get up close and personal, especially with the curious gentoo penguins as they come to greet you. As you cruise along, expect the unexpected – look out for humpback whales gently breaching the surface water, pods of seals basking in the sun on ice floes or Antarctic seabirds soaring high above the rocky cliffs and plunging into the polar waters to fish. You’ll be able to use the ship’s array of undersea tools for exploring, with the Splash-Cams and hydrophones bringing to life the sights and sounds of marine life beneath the sea.

Antarctica Extreme Medicine ConferenceA ‘bucket list’ journey
The renowned ‘National Geographic Explorer’ ship will be your home for the duration of the Antarctica Conference Cruise as you journey across the legendary Drake Passage to the peace and serenity of the Antarctic. It’s a place that has only two temperaments: ‘the Drake Shake’ or the ‘the Drake Lake’ – whether you encounter a smooth sailing or the choppiest of seas it’s all part of the adventure. Indeed, crossing the infamous Drake Passage is an unforgettable encounter, a bucket list moment and a milestone in any adventurer’s journey as you follow in the footsteps of many of the world’s famous explorers.

Antarctica Extreme Medicine Conference

On why Antarctica provides the perfect classroom when talking about all things extreme, WEM founder Mark Hannaford says:

“Antarctica is one of the world’s last frontiers with vast swathes barely visited or explored and similarly our extraordinary speakers our part of massive initiatives to explore Space the final frontier. As mariners of the past set out to discover the world, our extreme medicine practitioners are themselves working in new frontiers often constrained by limited resources, all while constantly discovering and learning as they explore”.


For an experience like no other…
In a rare, wondrous location…
With remarkable expertise

Join an Antarctica Conference Cruise like no other.


3 ‘must read’ reasons why you need to attend WEMski ‘Mental Health in Medics’

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There is nothing more important than our mental health, it’s integral to our physical health and our ability to the best medics we can be, which is why we came up with the idea of the WEMski ‘Mental Health in Medics’ Conference.

A conference like no other, where you’ll experience a brilliant balance of enjoying a stunning outdoor environment, while engaging with a forward-thinking super experienced faculty to increase knowledge base and build upon personal development.

Event: WEMski ‘Mental Health in Medics’
Dates: 14th – 21st March 2020
Location: Livigno, Italian Alps

Here are 3 excellent reasons why you need to attend:

Network with world-renowned experts – this is the perfect event to converse with your counterparts and colleagues from around the world as well as meeting an eclectic mix of remarkable experts such as Prof Chris Imray, Senior surgeon and world leading cold weather expert, Dr Natalie Taylor of ‘Ice Maidens’ fame, Clinical Psychologist Dr Kate Baecher and Dr Sophie Redlin, mental health awareness and emotional resilience trainer. Plus, Eoin Walker, Trauma lead for WEM, Humanitarian nurse Josie Gilday and WEM founder Mark Hannaford.

Be inspired to achieve great things – we are super proud to have been able to attract so many extraordinary speakers; from maverick mountain and Antarctic medics to record-breaking and adventurous mountaineers, plus ridiculously talented, intelligent and utterly outstanding experts in extreme physical and psychological areas who will be speaking and personally sharing their experiences and advice that will help mould the medical future – we cannot wait!

Earn CPD credits and further your career – where else can you enhance your knowledge, and increase your skill set to ensure you are in the best position possible to further your medical career. This conference will centre around real-world experiences of extreme physical and psychological challenges, human factors in extreme medicine, mental wellness and leadership, medicine in the extremes and much more. For those attending and completing the conference, accreditation will be offered (we estimate 20 hours of CPD) through the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh.

This unique medical gathering is like no other; five days of inspiring content and thought-provoking presentations, mornings out on the slopes networking with the faculty, two full days of skiing plus a 3-course hog roast at the top of the mountain on the final day.

Our WEMski conference also comes highly recommended from past attendees:

A brilliant week has come to an end with world Extreme medicine at WEMski. Thanks to a brilliant faculty! Learnt loads about perseverance, team working and adventures, made amazing new friends, giggles about crazy stories and decided to binge watch Narcos!

Thank you all for a soul recharge. It’s exactly what I needed. Will be back next year!

Dominika, 2019 WEMski conference attendee

As with all WEM Conferences, it’s something special! Join us in March 2020 for WEMski ‘Mental Health in Medics’ and be part of something amazing, book your place today!



Other blogs that may be of interest:


WEMski: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s)

Our WEMski conference with a difference – here is everything you need to know about our unique ‘Mental Health in Medics’ event taking place in the Italian Alps in March 2020.

What is WEMski?
The WEMski Conference is a leading-edge event concentrating on mental health, resilience and leadership for medical professionals. It brings together inspirational minds in an environment where we use adventure and the outdoors as a medium for learning, starting conversations around human factors in clinical teams and helping to build life-long networks. It offers a unique opportunity to learn from world-inspiring minds championing the forefront in medical and non-medical protocol and innovation all in one place.

Why is WEMski needed?
In 2018, 6,507 people committed suicide, with doctors and dentists showing consistently amongst the occupations with the highest suicide rates. Also, rather worryingly is the fact that suicide is more common in medical school than any other school setting. With a stigma still attached in today’s society to seek help and tackle mental health considerations, we need to initiate conversation in a safe and open way to help people to observe mental health considerations in both themselves as well as others at an early stage and to mitigate risk before it reaches a point where suicide is thought to be the only answer.

What are the main reasons to attend?
Like traditional WEM courses, this event offers a brilliant balance of enjoying a stunning outdoor environment, while engaging with a forward-thinking super experienced faculty to increase your knowledge base and build upon your own personal and team’s development.

You might also find this blog interesting to read: 3 ‘must read’ reasons why you need to attend WEMski ‘Mental Health in Medics’

Who should attend and who would benefit from attending?
Any medical or health professional of any age that operate in an environment they find challenging and they identify others may find challenging would find this conference interesting and useful. Also, anyone with an interest in mental health or concerns about their own mental health or their team should be encouraged to attend. Previous attendees have included: Doctors, Nurses, Paramedics, Midwives, Dentists, 999 dispatchers, Search & Rescue personnel.

What will I learn?
The week is a mix of formal and informal learning, featuring lectures and workshops from WEM faculty and guest speakers who are experts in their field, who have worked in stressful situations or who have experienced mental health issues themselves. Learning from our expert team and through your own experiences you will be examining the clinical psychology of leadership and teamwork in stressful working environments, whether that be in the hospital or on an expedition.

You will learn how to identify the signs and symptoms of distress in yourself and others, how to initiate those difficult but worthwhile conversations, how to mitigate distress and put coping mechanisms in place. There will also be resilience and leadership development through investigation of one’s own personality and real-time scenarios in a cold weather environment to discuss the concept of group versus team.

Throughout the week, you’ll also have access to top tips from the field and have the opportunity to ‘up-skill’ through a series of workshops, learning clinical and practical skills which will serve you well in remote areas. Plus, we have every morning and two full days on the slopes to enjoy the setting and absorb the content in a safe and stunning backdrop.

I’ve not done one of your courses before, can I still join?
Absolutely, this conference is for all medics, clinicians and health care professionals wanting to learn and understand more about mental health awareness on both a personal level and also from a leadership level.

I’m relatively new to medicine is this for me? Do I need any experience?
Yes 100% this is definitely for you! This week will equip you with the knowledge to help yourself and others from a mental health perceptive as your career develops. It’s great to start thinking about your own personal mental wellness and also those of your colleagues and team members at the beginning of your career. By attending you’ll be better equipped with newly learnt tools and skills that will help you in the future when dealing with stressful situations/environments.

How could attending further my career?
Mental Health is a hot topic and engagement with this event reflects a forward-thinking mentality and an acknowledgement of current issues and their impact on medical professionals in the 21st Century. It’s a positive CPD to have within your portfolio, plus you will gain a weeks’ experience skiing, hiking and walking in a cold weather environment within a WEM course, the worth of which is well-recognised within the expedition medical world.

Who are the confirmed guest speakers/WEM faculty?
We have an eclectic mix of world-renowned experts joining us at WEMski this year, all bringing with them their own personal real-world experiences of extreme physical and psychological challenges as well as offering advice on human factors in extreme medicine, mental wellness and leadership, medicine in the extremes and much more. Guest speakers include:

  • Professor Chris Imray: Senior surgeon and world leading cold weather expert
  • Dr Kate Baecher: Clinical Psychologist
  • Dr Natalie Taylor: Military Personnel and one of the ‘Ice Maidens’
  • Eoin Walker: Senior HEMS Critical Care Paramedic and Trauma Lead for WEM
  • Dr Sophie Redlin: works closely with medical professionals to deliver training on mental health awareness, suicide awareness and response and general well-being topics such as emotional resilience.
  • Josie Gilday: Humanitarian Nurse who has done multiple deployments with MSF and Red Cross

What will each speaker be bringing/sharing info and experience wise?
The faculty as a whole reflect a group of people operating across military, pre-hospital urban, pre-hospital remote and humanitarian environments with extensive experience to draw upon allowing an empathetic approach towards the attendees. It is not the individuals that make this event strong but the combination of backgrounds and experience as a whole that ensures the content is relevant, engaging and worthwhile.

What’s the itinerary?
Every morning from 08.45 – 13.00 is dedicated to enjoying the resort, so we arrive at the afternoon sessions from 13.30 – 18.00 relaxed and looking forward to learning topics that will demand our full attention. You will have two out of the six days as full ski days to really make the most of the amazing conditions in Livigno. For the early birds amongst you, there will be complimentary yoga and cross country skiing sessions prior to the start of our morning skiing sessions. Plus, for the energetic there will be optional activities such as off-piste descents and off-piste snow-shoe walking during the afternoons of the full ski days. There are a few group evenings planned and before that some après-ski fun as well with something to suit everyone. If you are a beginner skier or snowboard no problem – lessons are available at an extra cost.

Do I need to be a skier to attend?
No! Don’t fret if you’ve never been skiing before or are just a beginner. It’s super easy to book lessons, and if you don’t fancy hitting the slopes then there are a host of other pretty amazing facilities to keep you busy!

Why Livigno?
Selected to host some Winter Olympic events in 2026 and previously voted best European Resort in the World Snow Awards, Livigno is a leading winter resort with over 125km of skiing in addition to an extensive freeride mountain, 45km of cross-country walking/skiing paths and several massive snow-parks. It is also home to Europe’s largest wellness facility.
The town stretches over 13km and is packed full of bars, pubs, cafes, extensive tax-free shopping and over 100 restaurants from simple pizzerias to Michelin star eateries, not to mention the highest brewery in Europe. Livigno is also tax-free making it one of the most reasonably priced Western resorts despite the very high standards.

If you want to make a positive contribution to you and your team’s mental health, allowing you to become the best medics you can be then this is the event for you! To find out more information about WEMski or to book your place on what we promise will be an incredibly inspiring week in the Italian Alps, please click here.


Other blogs that may be of interest:

WEMski 2020 ‘Mental Health Awareness for Medics’ – be part of something out of the ordinary!

Our exciting WEMski Conference ‘Mental Health Awareness for Medics’ is bringing together inspiring adventurers, leading medics and extreme environment professionals to concentrate on mental health, resilience and leadership for medical professionals.

As with all WEM events, it’s something special and not something you’ll want to miss! You’ll experience a week of learning focused on mental health awareness for both yourself and also on a team level. We will offer you a chance to learn from your own experiences, as well as giving you the opportunity to enhance your skills through hands-on workshops where you’ll learn clinical and practical skills which you will be able to carry forward and use when working in remote areas. For anyone looking to perform better in their extreme medical career, be able to cope with the impacts of being in an extreme situation or looking to enhance your cold weather survival skills, this is the event for you.

During your time with us, the mornings (08.45-13.00) are dedicated to enjoying the amazing resort of Livigno and ski networking on the mountains (all abilities are welcome). Take advantage of 125km of skiing, in addition to an extensive freeride mountain, 45km of cross-country walking/skiing paths and several snow-parks that play host to international events across the Livigno Valley. There will also be informal ‘Ask the Expert’ sessions as well as optional skill sessions to include Nordic skiing, snowshoeing, ice climbing and fat bike tour.

The afternoon conference sessions (13.30-18.00) will be filled with captivating content and traditional WEM style-teaching; covering practical clinical skills alongside informative lectures and interesting panel discussions. There will be dedicated sessions where you will have the unique opportunity to speak with our WEM faculty; plus, for further inspiration you’ll have the opportunity to ask questions and gain a valuable insight into how our world-renowned speakers have overcome significant individual mental challenges.

Be inspired by these amazing WEMski sessions, including:

  • Applying medicine in alternative environments; Expedition Medicine, Disaster & Humanitarian, High-Risk Situations
  • Human Factors in Extreme Medicine and delivery of medicine in austere environment
  • Mental Wellness and Leadership
  • How personality affects decision making
  • Signs and symptoms of distress in self and others
  • Coping mechanisms to mitigate and manage distress
  • Panel Discussion – ‘How do we, as medics, stay healthy and maintain mental stability and perform safely in extremes?’

WEMski ‘Mental Health Awareness for Medics’ provides the perfect opportunity to come together, recharge your soul, network and learn from the best; while spending time in a relaxed and picturesque environment amongst peers, our amazing speakers and WEM faculty.

The ticket price for the WEMski is £495, which includes:

  • Full WEMski conference content access
  • Daily transfers from the slopes to the conference venue.
  • Complimentary welcome and après-ski drink
  • Mountain top 3-course hog roast lunch in a stunning panoramic restaurant (on Friday).
  • Local booking service

We have partnered with local in-resort specialist Nikki McLeary who also owns Livigno Snow Holidays to help organise your transfers, accommodation, ski passes, kit hire and après-ski activities. For further information and costs, please click here.

For an incredibly fun, diverse and inspiring week – book your WEMski ‘Mental Health Awareness in Medics’ place today!


Other blogs that may be of interest:

What is WEMski? Why is it needed? How can it help?

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Keeping our medics healthy is key to societal health, and with ever growing pressure on medical professionals and the systems in which they work, it’s more important than ever to have platforms to support the people that work so hard to care for communities at home and around the world.

Decompression breaks are common for people working in high-stress and high-risk environments but are rare among medical and allied healthcare professionals. While working in extremes, be that in war zones, expeditions, remotely with little support, as an isolated or overwhelmed GP, in a busy stressed Emergency Department or on a paramedic crew, medics are subject to significant and compounding stresses. We believe more needs to be done to mitigate the effects of this.

WEMski is an event concentrating on mental health and resilience for medical and allied healthcare professionals, which will also cover aspects of physical resilience and leadership. Participants will come away with a new network of friends and colleagues, but most importantly the tools they need to thrive in their challenging work settings both at home and across the world.

Here WEM founder Mark Hannaford and WEM mentor/partner David Weil tells us what prompted them to mount such an ambitious project…

Why WEMski? What are the drivers for mounting such an extraordinary meeting?
The WEMski Conference is distinctly different and leading-edge, a unique opportunity to learn from world-inspiring minds championing the forefront in medical and non-medical protocol and innovation all in one place.

With our history and heritage firmly steeped in expeditions, special forces medicine and working in some of the planets most remote, and dangerous locations we know the pressures clinicians, nurses and paramedics have to work under.

Working in partnership with clinical physiologist Dr Nathan Smith and extreme environment safety specialist Aldo Kane our aim was to develop an event that brought together inspirational minds in an environment where we could use adventure and the outdoors as a medium for leaning engendering conversations around human factors in clinical teams and helping to build life-long networks.

What prompted you to establish WEMski?
Living in the southwest of England, the pace of life is slower, and one imagines less stressful than living in London or one of the big cities. So, it shocked me immensely to notice over the past 12 months or so, a series of media articles about young doctors committing suicide; Rose Polge, Lauren Phillips & Rebecca Ovenden. This shocked, saddened and appalled me in equal measure but it wasn’t something we felt WEM was in a position to address in any way.

After a period of reflection, however, we realised that WEM is full of amazing individuals who have achieved amazing feats of endurance, worked in war zones really pushing themselves emotionally and physically to the very extremes and rather than not contributing to the conversation we could actually do something positive.WEM mentor and social innovator David Weil fully backed the idea ‘WEM’s heritage of positive engagement in extreme edges of medicine combining adventure, the outdoors and positivity makes using the Italian Alps the perfect setting for talking about mental health and human factors in medicine’. This also ties in with Weil’s time as past trustee with the Royal Marines Charity and partner with Solidarité Défense which deals overwhelmingly with PTSD both in the UK and France.

What make the WEMski faculty so different?
All the faculty have undergone significant tests to their character, and they come from a huge range of backgrounds from Xtreme Everest summiteer and world cold weather injury authority Prof. Chris Imray, to extreme expeditioner and ‘Ice Maiden’ Dr Natalie Taylor to clinical Psychologist Dr Kate Baecher. Gathering them in one place allows us to really learn how they have coped with their difficult periods and how they overcame significant challenges to achieve personal success.

What do you hope to achieve with WEMski?
We want to give the folk attending WEMski a toolbox of stress-busting techniques and the ability to manage teams more effectively recognising the value of a human factors approach. WEMski is designed to equip you with the tools to not just cope, but to thrive in extreme environments. We want attendees to go away inspired as to where their medical training might take them with an address book full to the brim of great contacts.

To find out more about WEMski or to book your place on what we promise will be an incredibly fun, diverse and inspiring week, please click here.


Other blogs that may be of interest:

Everything you need to know when booking your WEMski trip…

If you are thinking about joining us for our fantastic WEMski mini-conference or have already booked your place; we have partnered with local in-resort specialist Nikki McLeary who also owns Livigno Snow Holidays to help organise your transfers, accommodation, ski passes, kit hire and après-ski activities.

Nikki has put together this essential information guide that contains everything you’ll need to know about booking your WEMski experience…

First-time skiers
WEMski is the perfect way to be both physically and medically introduced to a mountain/winter environment with skiers of all abilities welcome. Nikki is used to organising large groups for all ability levels, so there will always be someone on hand to answer any questions you may have regarding the resort, your kit and tuition.

About Livigno (pronounced Liv-in-yo)
Selected to host some Winter Olympic events in 2026 and previously voted best European Resort in the World Snow Awards, Livigno is a leading winter resort with over 125km of skiing in addition to an extensive freeride mountain, 45km of cross-country walking/skiing paths and several massive snow-parks. It is also home to Europe’s largest wellness facility. The town stretches over 13km and is packed full of bars, pubs, cafes, extensive tax-free shopping and over 100 restaurants from simple pizzerias to Michelin star eateries, not to mention the highest brewery in Europe. Livigno is also tax-free making it one of the most reasonably priced Western resorts despite the very high standards.

WEMski Service
Nikki McLeary will be arranging all the logistics for WEMski and having lived in Livigno during the winter seasons for 15 years, she knows the resort inside out. The flights you will be advised to book will meet a coach in Milan to travel with all faculty and delegates to Livigno where you will all be met by Nikki upon arrival to check you into your chalet and help you organise your kit hire. The first evening there are drinks arranged in a lovely live music bar to help everyone settle in.

WEMski itinerary
Every morning there will be an arranged meeting time and place for those that would like to ski and lunch together with the WEMski and Livigno Snow Team. There will be coaches provided to then take everyone on to the conference venue (7 minutes’ drive) for the afternoon sessions that take place between 13.30 – 18.00 Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Thursday (Tuesday and Friday is a full free day to enjoy the slopes or alternative activities). Every evening is free to enjoy at your leisure, although we will be organising a couple of group evenings and a hog roast on the slopes the final day prior to departure. A coach will take us back to the town centre in the evenings after the mini-conference.

Flights and transfers
You will need to book your own flights, but Nikki will advise the preferred flight so you can link with the faculty and other delegates for the transfer coach. If these flights do not suit or you are coming from Europe please talk to Nikki directly.

We have booked a range of chalets next to the ski area and only 80 metres to the heart of the town for convenience, the cost will be approximately 380 euros per person for 7 nights sharing rooms. The chalets are all of a high standard offering comfort in a superb location.

Ski pack
Nikki will organise everything for you in one go (transfers, accommodation, ski pass, kit hire if required, heated storage on the slopes and any lessons you may require). For this forthcoming season, ski passes high season are 252 euros for 6 days (including the 5 euros deposit you receive back when you return your pass to any office after the final day’s skiing) and kit hire (skis, boots, poles) are 98 euros for 6 days (if you need snowboard and boots the cost will be 115 euros, part hire e.g. boots only is also available).

Ski lockers on the slopes
These are available at the kit hire shop for approximately 15 euros per person per week. You can pay this to the shop directly and it saves lugging kit around.

Mini-conference ticket
Contact Nick in the WEM office to book your WEMski ticket. You will then be passed to Nikki to make all the necessary arrangements.

Once your booking has been made there is only one payment to make to Nikki (euros account in Livigno to mitigate any currency fluctuations associated with Brexit). If you prefer to make two payments for budgeting reasons please speak to Nikki as she will be as flexible as possible on this point.

Cancellation policy
Should you need to cancel your trip:

  • Chalet owners will only refund accommodation if we are able to find another person to take your place
  • Nikki can cancel all transfer, ski pass and kit hire payments up to 10 days prior to arrival. After this time it will be a case of seeking advice from your insurance company.

In addition to normal holiday insurance you must take winter sports insurance with third person liability in case you injure someone on the slopes, helicopter lift should you require this and also repatriation should an emergency occur and you have to return to your home country.

For any further information or advice, please contact Nikki McLeary on 07956 018 995 or email 

How far and to what extent can we treat injuries on an expedition?

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How far can we treat injuries on an expedition?
To what extent can we treat injuries on an expedition?

Interesting questions, and ones that our expert faculty are constantly asked when on one of our training courses and workshops. It’s the ‘million dollar question’, and the answers often given will of course vary depending on the injury, your environment and the resources you have to hand.

But, one way to think about this is by using the anagram ‘Don’t Eat All Of A Cow’ or for the vegetarian/vegans out there ‘Don’t Eat Any Of A Cow’ (DEAOAC) as used by leading expedition dentist and WEM faculty Burjor Langdana. He uses this anagram to discuss injuries on expeditions and more specifically when asked “How far and to what extent can we treat dental issues / facial trauma on an expedition? We do not have much dental or maxillofacial experience”, but ‘DEAOAC’ can actually have a wider application across all medicine.

D – Develop
Develop your toolbox by attending courses, lectures and workshops. Absorb as many practical tips and as much knowledge as possible of anything and everything – it all adds to your skillset.

E – Exercise
Exercise and practice at every opportunity, as by gaining more experience you’ll be able to develop new or previously dormant skills. It’s also a great idea to get friendly with the MaxFax department (or other relevant team) at your local hospital and also your local dentist to gather further insights and experience.

A – Assess
Assess the situation that faces you on the expedition and think carefully about what you are facing and how best to deal with the situation using the limited resources you have. The main objective is to get the patient in a stable enough condition, so they are able to travel and seek further medical attention, whether that be with you or via MediVac.

O – Options
There will be treatment options available which you should discuss with your patient, colleagues and the rest of the team. This will keep everyone in the loop, help you think aloud your plan of action and it also lets the patient know what is happening and why. By communicating clearly and effectively it puts you in control of the situation and should keep the patient and those treating them calm enough so as not to panic.

A – Accept
In a quite possibly remote and austere location with limited resource, now is the time to accept and fully understand your own limits of what you can and can’t do.

C – Comfort
Now is the time to stay within your comfort zone. How much you stretch yourself will depend on various factors, including the situation, the expedition environment you are in and the seriousness of the injury. Call on the help of others around you and have confidence in your own ability – get the basics right first!

Burjor says: “It’s actually a decreasing circle. Pre-expedition you may have developed a huge toolbox attending various training programmes and acquiring new skills. However, from this you may be able to practice and develop only a few skills, and out of those few skills, there will be even less that you regard as ‘within my limits’. Out of these, there will be fewer still that will ‘fit within your comfort zone’, and this zone will vary according to the environment, your fitness level, speed and the possibility of MediVac. You may be tempted to stretch (or not) your comfort zone depending on these factors.

The interesting point Burjor is making, is the bigger the toolbox you start off with, the deeper your comfort zone will be in the stressful environment of an expedition. If you are fully prepared, have enhanced your learning and used every opportunity to observe, experience and practise those skills, you will feel more confident in your own ability to face any challenges that come up on an expedition. With this confidence you’ll be able to proficiently assess, stabilise, manage and treat your patient, which will lead to an improved patient outcome.

For further specific expedition dentistry resources and information from Burjor and his team, you can visit

Interested in developing a medical career in Extreme Medicine?

  • WEM’s exciting selection of expedition, wilderness and remote medicine courses offers you a fully immersive training experience into what it means to be an expedition medic.
  • The annual WEM Conference features some of the world’s leading speakers and as well as a host of worthwhile and relevant workshops.
  • The University of Exeter Medical School MSc in Extreme Medicine allows for a modular study program as well as offering full-time and part-time study.