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Meet WEMski speaker Prof. Chris Imray – Vascular Surgeon and world-renowned expert on frostbite and cold injuries

A huge WEMski welcome to Prof. Chris Imray, Vascular Surgeon and world-renowned expert on frostbite and cold injuries.

Chris is a Consultant Vascular and Renal Transplant Surgeon at UHCW NHS Trust and a Professor at Warwick Medical School, Coventry University and Exeter University and a member of the WEMSki Faculty. He has a Diploma in Mountain Medicine and is a world-renowned expert on frostbite and cold injuries; as well as having medical interests in extreme altitude physiology and the brain at high altitude. Chris is the perfect medic to bring to WEMski, as he’ll be sharing his own personal experiences of climbing (including a summit of Everest) in addition to imparting his vast knowledge of high altitude medicine and cold injuries including how best to treat them.

Chris started climbing whilst at school, and has continued to travel all over the world to indulge this passion; climbing as far afield as the sea cliffs of Cornwall to the volcanoes of Chile. He began working with the Birmingham Medical Research Expeditionary Society in the late 1980s, which is where his interest in altitude research became a passion. Chris now continues his research with the Caudwell Xtreme Everest Research Group and more recently has become involved with the UCL team at The Centre for Altitude Space and Extreme Environment Medicine (CASE).

Having been one of the medical officers taking part in the 2006 Xtreme Cho Oyu expedition to Tibet, Chris went on to be the Deputy Climbing Leader of the 2007 Caudwell Xtreme Everest Expedition. He summited both Cho Oyu, the sixth highest mountain in the world (8201m) and Everest (8848m), and has the dubious distinction of having the second lowest arterial gases ever recorded in an adult (at 8400m)! This was the first ever measurement of the level of oxygen in human blood at 8400m, on the balcony of Everest and was the centrepiece of an extensive and continuing programme of research into hypoxia (low oxygen levels) and human performance at extreme altitude.

Chris Imray has published over 130 peer review papers on various subjects including altitude medicine, cold injury, vascular surgery and renal transplantation, and remains an active mountaineer and altitude researcher.  Chris is also a trustee of the Society of Extreme, Expedition & Wilderness Medicine (SEEWM) and a regular speaker at the World Extreme Medicine Conference.

We are delighted to welcome Chris Imray to our WEMski faculty and to give you a little taste of what Chris will be talking about at WEMski, we asked him these three questions…

Q. What skills would you say are vital in an extreme and challenging environment?

A. Preparation for any challenge is crucial, especially when facing such extreme and potentially life-threatening conditions. It’s important to familiarise yourself with the environment beforehand and understand and prepare for the potential hazards and situations you could find yourself in. On a personal skill level, the ability to think outside the box will serve you well and having a good sense of humour will help you and your team mentally survive.

Q. What first interested you in practising extreme medicine and taking on such extreme physical and psychological challenges?

A. Exposure to the mountains of North Wales when I was 15 years old kick-started my interest in climbing and I’ve never looked back since. It was so thrilling for a young schoolboy like myself. I can remember the excitement and even the smell of heather from my first climb on the Milestone Buttress on Tryfan. I just love being in the mountains and now I get to travel to remote and exciting places with like-minded people.

Q. What has been your scariest ‘extreme’ challenge/situation and why?

A. I try not to get too scared – I don’t like it! Climbing Mt Everest as part of the Caudwell Xtreme Everest Expedition, where we were confronted with temperatures down to -40°C, high winds, and critically low oxygen levels was pretty frightening. Frostbite, exhaustion, hypothermia and high-altitude illness (mountain sickness) were ever-present as well as other potentially fatal risks. We were also involved in a high-profile rescue of a Nepalese climber, which reminded us just how dangerous our challenge was. The aim of the expedition was to investigate the adaptation of the human body as it acclimatises to extreme altitude, using the shortage of oxygen as a model for patients in intensive care units. Arterial blood gases at 8400m sounds scary, but we had prepared for that moment over two years, so in fact, it was no more challenging than we had expected.

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

Dr Nat Taylor of the historic Ice Maidens expedition joins us as faculty for WEMski

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In January 2018, Nat Taylor had just completed an incredible 1,700-mile expedition, as she formed part of the badass all-female group ‘The Ice Maidens’, who skied coast-to-coast across Antarctica using muscle power alone (and broke a record or two along the way). This year sees Nat pull her ski boots on for a slightly different challenge, as she joins us as faculty for WEMski; Mental Health in Medics conference, an event with a difference.

Nat will be talking about the incredible ‘Ice Maidens’ mission, the brainchild of Nat and her colleague Major Nics Wetherill, where they wanted to take on a formidable challenge that would inspire women of all ages and abilities to take part and do something they wouldn’t normally be doing, or even think was possible. They would be able to collect data on female endurance in extreme environments and show that women have the mental strength and physical endurance to operate in the most hostile environment on earth.

The only conditions of participating in this ‘once in a lifetime’ opportunity would be that applicants were serving in the Army (regular or reserve) and were female. In total 250 people came forward and were put through rigorous tests in the UK and in freezing conditions in Norway on a winter survival skills course that would simulate the Antarctica environment before the final six were selected.

The ‘Ice Maidens’ set off on 21st November 2017 for an incredible feat that would see the soldiers led by Nat and Nics endure 62 days on the ice, navigating crevasse fields while pulling sledges weighing up to 80kg and travelling up to 43km a day, all whilst battling temperatures as low as -50 degrees. This expedition was to be one of the biggest adventures of their lives and where for some, lifelong dreams were made!

Using her experience as an explorer and renowned endurance adventure racer, Nat has pushed her body to its limits on many an occasion, and fully understands what it takes, both physically and mentally to take control, carry on and push through in extreme and stressful situations. This is even more prevalent in Nat’s ‘day job’ as a Regimental Medical Officer and General Practitioner serving with the First Battalion the Rifles, based in Wales; having previously served in Germany and Helmand Province, Afghanistan.

With WEMski content centred around real-world experiences of extreme physical and psychological challenges, excellence in leadership, expedition medicine in the extremes, plus much more, we couldn’t think of a better placed person to join WEM faculty than Nat. She’ll be inspiring and educating our attendees with her own experiences of working in dangerous and stressful environments, as well as sharing her incredible ‘Ice Maiden’ story.

Be part of something amazing, book your place today!

Other blogs that may be of interest, include:

Team Rubicon UK – Hurricane Dorian Response

“Looking down at the devastated landscape from the window of a small plane I felt those familiar senses of anticipation and responsibility”.  Team Rubicon UK.

Anticipating the effects of a category 5 hurricane on the population of a small Caribbean Island, and the responsibility for another five teammates landing on a remote airstrip which had recently seen a plane emptied of its cargo at gun point.

Hurricane Dorian passed over Abaco Island in the Bahamas on the 1st September 2019 as a category 5 Hurricane with sustained windspeeds of 295 KPH, before passing over the island of Grand Bahama where it stalled, intensifying the magnitude of the devastation. Imagine being in a house by the sea, whilst being battered by winds, with the power to rip the roof of your home clean off, and within the eye of the hurricane, where mini tornadoes or twisters are picking up everything that isn’t bolted down and dispatching items as large as cars randomly across the landscape. If that isn’t enough to contend with, then there is the storm surge (in effect a mini tsunami), which in this instance was a 20-foot wall of water immediately inundating homes and forcing people to escape onto their roof, or be swept away – to either drown or cling for survival to the detritus within the flood waters (I spoke to a man who had clung onto a floating refrigerator for 14 hours).

The Team Rubicon UK team landed at Treasure Cay airstrip to a scene of utter chaos. The local population surrounded our small plane seeking a way off the island as we unloaded our personal equipment and sought some much-needed situational awareness from a Bahamian police officer.

In situations like this I’m often asked, ‘Where do you start?’ and I think back to a mantra I developed during the Nepal earthquake in 2015, when assisting the community at the epicentre of the quake that was that ‘you can’t help everybody but you can help somebody’. This has worked for me thus far and helped me come to terms with the enormity of some of the events I’ve witnessed. It also chimes with the idea of ‘shrink the change’ in that the way to solve a big problem is often a succession of smaller solutions. We were about to become one of those smaller solutions as in return for loading a truck with aid we had hitched a ride on the back and found ourselves driving towards a devastated resort, which had a small clinic where people had sheltered from the hurricane and was now being used as an aid distribution point. A detachment from the Royal Bahamian Defence Force were providing security and as we unloaded the first consignment the team headed back to the airstrip for another load to leave Lizzy (my second in command) and I to work out next steps. No sooner had they left than we rushed to the assistance of a man who had fallen into a diabetic coma. A less immediately apparent consequence of these events is that the affected population often lose everything, which includes medication and details of prescriptions. In this instance the casualty was evacuated by helicopter to Nassau and it was a successful outcome.

Having established a forward operating base our team pushed out on foot to identify affected communities and assess their needs. This information gathering is always the first phase of our operations and once fed into the coordination mechanism it leads to a more effective distribution network. One of our concerns here was for the Haitian population, who were reticent to engage with humanitarians owing to their legal status on the island. They had initially been invited over to work on a government farm in the 1950s but since then a number of shanty towns had developed, which were housing people either living on Abaco illegally or using it as a staging post to the USA. One has only to reflect on the current political situation in Haiti to appreciate why Haitians would flee from their home shores (post-disaster a fishing vessel packed with migrants ran aground off another Bahamian islands and the passengers fled into the relative safety of the expatriate community). We enter into the uncertainty of these events with the humanitarian principles of humanity, impartiality, neutrality and independence as our guiding handrail and aid must be distributed to those most in need. In my experience people sometimes need a literal and metaphorical hand up and to realise they are not alone in confronting the task ahead. Humanity is critical and I have seen something as simple as a hug unlock an emotion that has been stored inside since the disaster struck. Lizzy had one of these moments with a man who had lost his wife and children and was contemplating taking his own life. I hope the humanity of her action averted that course and he has lived on trying to make sense of it all.

During our time in the Bahamas Team Rubicon UK distributed 142 tonnes of humanitarian aid to 68,224 beneficiaries. We have now returned back to the UK and are engaged in ways we can continue to support the people of the Bahamas as they both recover from this disaster and plan for the unfortunate occurrence of yet another.

Paul Taylor, Team Rubicon UK.

Interested in developing a medical career in Disaster & Humanitarian Medicine?

  • 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.
  • WEM’s Ethiopia Humanitarian & Expedition Medicine course gives a experiential introduction into what it means to be a humanitarian medic.

Meet the team behind our NEW and exciting Alpine Medicine course

Our outstanding teaching faculty for the NEW and exciting Alpine Medicine training expedition course taking place in the stunning Julian Alps in Slovenia brings with them a huge array of Everest, Polar and Mountain Rescue experience. They are perfectly placed to share their unique knowledge and skills with you and ensure by the time you leave this course you will have an inclusive understanding of winter mountaineering skills, advanced expedition medicine skills, altitude and cold weather medicine.

Meet the expert team who will be delivering an unrivalled syllabus of expedition medicine content:

Dr Rich Wain-Hobson – Alpine Medicine Course Lead

Dr Rich Wain-Hobson - WEM facultyBorn in a dark corner of North Wales, Rich spent his childhood exploring Snowdonia with his Dad. An offer to study at Peninsula Medical School took him to the South West, and he hasn’t looked back.

Since then he has developed an interest in expedition and remote medicine which has seen him planning, supporting and leading expeditions in over 60 countries, including both polar regions.

He spends every spare moment outside climbing, ski touring, mountain biking, and surfing. He has spent a winter season in Austria and the Southern Alps of New Zealand, as well as other notable adventures such as bouncing down Africa in an old Land Rover, multi-day dog sledding in Arctic Norway, being one of the first people to mountain bike in the Simien mountains in Ethiopia, and driving from Western Ireland to Eastern Siberia for charity.

Rich has studied Tropical Medicine at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, and has worked in hospitals in Uganda, Kenya, Zambia, Malawi and Nepal, as well as Sri Lanka after the tsunami. He is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, and has a passion for encouraging others to explore and enjoy the outdoors.

Rich has just got back from a year in NZ and is looking forwards to pastures new… He is currently working as a GP and an EM Middle Grade doctor.


Dr Isla Madeleine Wormald – Emergency Medicine Specialist Registrar

Dr Isla Madeleine Wormald - WEM facultyIsla is a Yorkshire lass living in Sheffield, UK where she is a locum Emergency Medicine SpR.

She was formerly doctor for the Upper Wharfedale Fell Rescue Association & GB Junior Lead Climbing & Bouldering Teams.

Born & raised by two teacher parents, an enthusiasm for education runs in her blood and in addition to being a WEM faculty member, Isla is an AWLS instructor & helped deliver the first UIAA / ICAR / ISMM Nepal DiMM.

Isla’s expedition medicine experience includes:

  • Doctor for BSES Arctic Adventure 2011 expedition to Svalbard
  • CMO for Leeds Metropolitan University Himalayan Research Expedition 2011
  • SMO for BSES Arctic Odyssey 2012 Expedition to Loppa Peninsula of Norway
  • Challenge Medic for three Action Challenge Kilimanjaro Summit Challenges
  • Doctor for Action Challenge “London 2 Paris 24” 2013
  • CMO for Medex Manaslu 2015 Expedition
  • Challenge Doctor for Skyline Events Great Wall Discovery Trek 2018
  • Doctor for Antarctic Logistics & Expeditions 2019

Isla has a passion for outdoor pursuits and can usually be found scaling snow-capped peaks or undertaking pedal-powered adventures! She is a holder of the Mountain Training Association Summer Mountain Leader & PADI Open Water Diver awards and is an aspirant Winter Mountain Leader & British Association of International Mountain Leaders International Mountain Leader.


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 Diploma 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.


Join us in February 2021; 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:

4 fantastic reasons to choose our Alpine Medicine course

Our exciting 6-day Alpine Medicine medical training expedition in the stunning Julian Alps, Slovenia is designed to open the world of expedition medicine to doctors, nurses, paramedics and other medical professionals wanting to add adventure into their career. So, if you’re keen to support expeditions in cold, mountainous environments or simply be better prepared for your own winter mountain adventures – this is the course for you!

4 excellent reasons to choose our Alpine Medicine course:

  • Earn CPD credits and further your career – add more adventure to your career and bring new challenges by learning and enhancing your knowledge and skill set to ensure you are in the best possible position to further your career. For those attending and completing the course, accreditation will be offered (we estimate 34 hours of CPD) through the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh.
  • Alpine medicine topics explained – across the 6 days you’ll cover a broad range of topics including winter mountaineering and expedition skills, public health in mountain environments, expedition and emergency planning, altitude and cold weather injury, wilderness trauma and medical and rescue scenarios, as well as having the unique opportunity to hear inspiring ‘real-life’ stories from our mountain loving faculty.
  • Practical hands on experience – throughout your time with us, there will be various preparatory workshops and skill sessions on field-proven techniques to inspire and enhance your skills; helping you to become a more effective and highly valued practitioner of cold weather medicine.
  • Expert faculty – between them our remarkable expert team have a depth of knowledge and experience, living and working in the most remote corners of the world, achieving notable success in the face of extreme challenge and adversity.

WEM Faculty Jamie Pattison describes what the WEM Alpine Medicine Course is all about, the skills you’ll learn as well as showcasing the stunning environment you’ll be immersing yourself in.

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

Book your place today!

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Other blogs that may be of interest, include:

Alpine Medicine Course: take your medical career in a new direction

If you’re a medic keen to support expeditions in cold, mountainous environments or simply be better prepared for your own winter mountain adventures then our exciting 6-day Alpine Medicine training expedition, in the stunning Julian Alps is for you!

Making the most of the winter conditions, this comprehensive medical training expedition brings together likeminded medics from a variety of backgrounds and career stages all sharing the same common desire – to bring more adventure into their careers and blend their passion for travel, adventure and the great outdoors with their medical skills.

This course blends winter mountaineering skills, advanced expedition medicine skills, altitude and cold weather medicine through a mix of engaging short, focused lectures and hands-on intense case-based scenarios. Throughout the course you will be encouraged in new ways of thinking and new approaches to problem solving as well as challenging your abilities to adapt to unpredictable situations – a must-have when taking on any type of expedition.

We’ll start by getting to know each other during a big kit session, discussing the benefits and drawbacks of different items, what to pack and how to best equip yourself for you adventures. Over the next two days you’ll learn essential clinical skills and environmental factors specific to cold and mountainous environments, this learning will be interspersed with simulation exercises. As your skill and adaptability within the exercises grows, so will the complexity of the tasks.

Midway through the course we will travel to Vogel ski area for a full day of avalanche training and snow science with world-class IFMGA Guides. Here you’ll learn about the types of avalanches, how they form and release, avalanche terrain, decision making and route planning, and the essential skills needed for avalanche rescue.

The final two days of the course will take us out into the mountains including an overnight stay at Dom na Komni (a Komna hut). This mini-expedition phase will include the opportunity to learn or enhance your technical mountain skills from some of Slovenia’s best guides. During this phase you’ll also have further opportunities to run through simulation exercises, bringing together everything you have learnt over the week.

By the end of the course you’ll have learnt a wide range of mountain skills and expedition mountain medicine, but most importantly you’ll be better equipped to deal with emergency situations in remote mountain areas.

Where else in the world could you receive such hands-on experience, be part of a unique learning opportunity and have an adventure of a lifetime. To find out more and to experience our Alpine Medicine course for yourself, please click here.

Take your EXTREME medical career to the next level – book your place today!
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Other blogs that may be of interest, include:

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

We asked our remarkable WEM faculty, many of who have a depth of experience, living and working in the most remote corners of the world, achieving notable success in the face of extreme challenge and adversity the most frequently asked questions they get asked regarding our Alpine Medicine course.

What will I learn?
The main focus of the medical content will be around casualty care in winter mountain and alpine settings. You’ll learn essentials skills for assessing and treating patients, mechanisms of injury, scene safety and evacuation. Much of your learning will happen through hands on scenarios which will evolve in complexity as the course progresses, this will be backed up with lecture content and essential mountain skills, including a full day of avalanche training with world-class IFMGA guides.

Do I need to be a skier to attend?
No, the majority of past participants have not been experienced backcountry skiers. For those that have the skills, we are often able to supply skis and boots to allow you the chance to have some fun on the mountain.

Will ‘normal’ skiing clothing be ok?
Your typical piste skiing kit won’t be appropriate for this course due to the conditions and activity you’ll be doing out on the mountains. When ascending mountains, you’ll work up quite a sweat and so will need adaptable layers, high quality base layers, thin fleeces and a high quality shell layer is best. Once you stop moving, you’ll want a warm down or synthetic jacket to keep you nice and toasty. It’s important to ensure you are adequately equipped to deal with the cold conditions.

I’ve not done one of your courses before, can I still join?
This all comes down to your own experience – if you’re a competent hillwalker/climber with good knowledge of kit, navigation and are capable of looking after yourself in a remote setting, then yes.

Ok, so I don’t have those skills, what should I do?
Our four or five-day Expedition & Wilderness Medicine courses are a great introduction as a first-timer to a remote medicine course. You’ll also want to clock up some time improving your outdoor skills, with navigation as your number one priority. Safely being able to navigate your way through an adventure, or out of trouble, will allow you to push into more demanding terrain and face more challenging conditions.

I’m new to medicine is this for me?
If you love the outdoors, especially mountainous environments then yes. Our practical workshops and simulated exercises throughout the course will bring a new level of challenge due to the environment and limited resources, so anything you can do to boost your confidence in high pressure and emergency settings the better.

Do we get to summit any mountains?
We are hoping to build in that kind of objective, but this depends on many factors. While we aim to pack as much adventure as we can into our courses, we recognise that the biggest value is in the training itself. If you’d like to extend your stay for your own adventures we work with the fantastic people at www.triglavguides.com for all our Slovenia based adventures who would be happy to help you.

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 Alpine Medicine course or to book your place on what we promise will be an incredibly inspiring 6 days in Slovenia, please click here.

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Other blogs that may be of interest, include:

Dramatic Heli-Evacuation and Mountain Rescue in Nepal

Nepal is considered as a land of helicopters.
In the space of just two years, over 450 helicopters have landed on the heli roof of the Nepal Mediciti Hospital undertaking mountain rescue in Nepal.

On Friday 19th July, the Nepal Mediciti Hospital received a call for a heli-evacuation like no other.

This is the story, as told by Dr Sanjaya Karki:

The patient, Mr Somasundaram aged 74 and a doctor himself, suddenly fell sick in Tibet and was taken to the local hospital where medics ascertained the severity of his illness – his GCS was poor and hemodynamically unstable and most of the blood parameters were not in place. Family members were worried and wanted to take the patient back to Malaysia. However, transport home was no easy task – a trip home would be full of risks for both patient and the attending medics.

On 20th July, the Mediciti-HEMS team including team leader Dr Sanjaya Karki and head paramedic Mr.Ramesh Neupane, were ready to be deployed. By this stage, the patient was on a mechanical ventilator due to the deterioration of the condition.

The plan was to transfer a ventilated case all the way from Tibet to Hilsha by the Chinese doctors. The responsibility of the Nepalese team was to transfer the patient from Hilsha to Kathmandu via Helicopter and handover to the air ambulance, led by a Singaporean doctor who would transfer the case from Ktm to Malaysia.

From Nepal Mediciti, the flight was straightforward enough- the team made it to Surkhet in under two hours, refuelled and headed on to Hilsha. By the time the Nepalese team reached Hilsha, the patient was in a critical condition. He was on mechanical ventilator and pressure support with other supportive medications in 4 syringe pumps.

The intention was to take off for Kathmandu as soon as the team shifted the patient from the Chinese ambulance to the customised helicopter ambulance. However, as the team headed backand reached Dang valley, the weather turned and they were not able to move forward.

With conditions worsening, the team had to figure out a solution in order to try and save the patient’s life.

***

After a brief consultation with the patient’s family, the team decided to transport the patient to Kohalpur medical college. The team were told that Emergency and Intensive Care Unit doctors were standing by on the helipad, ready to receive the patient.

The patient’s condition was deteriorating quickly but the team were thwarted yet again by the weather, forcing another diversion towards Nepalgunj Airport. A second delay created problems of its own, as the batteries supporting the ventilator and cardiac monitor were drained and oxygen was running low.

After an hour waiting at Nepalgunj airport, the team set off again and finally landed on Kohalpur Medical College. The patient was successfully shifted to I.C.U and treatment was continued overnight. The following morning, with weather improving, the patient was taken back to the heli-ambulance to continue the arduous journey. At around 1pm, the team reached Tribhuwan International Airpot at Kathmandu, from which the Singaporean Air Ambulance was ready to transport him to Malaysia. After 28 hours of travel, the patient was in the helicopter that would carry him back to his homeland.

***

Nepal Mediciti, although still relatively in it’s infancy, has been operating for many years providing mountain rescue in Nepal and rescue services to hundreds of patients, but for Sanjaya Karki, this case was different

“The involvement of medical teams from China, Nepal, Singapore and Malaysia, health care techniques provided by those teams, not being able to reach our destination on time which forced us to opt for alternate measures through rescue and the time invested in it were the major factors that made this mountain rescue in Nepal different . But whatever was the time and situation, the coordination and decisions we made in that emergency condition of rescue and treatment of the patient turned beneficial which made this mission of mediciti hospital a huge success”.

***

Dr Sanjaya Karki, former winner of the prestigious David Weil Extreme Medicine Award.

 

Other blogs that may be of interest, include: 

Winners of the ‘David Weil Extreme Medicine Award’ (DWEMA) 2014. 

Heli-Rescue Operation in Chitwan National Park, Nepal.

What is Jungle Medicine?

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In a diverse environment that has the capacity to be both extremely dangerous and beautiful at once, Jungle Medicine is an interdisciplinary branch of medicine that refers to the practical application of medicine within a jungle environment.

It encompasses a number of sub-specialities such as tropical health, pre-hospital medicine, primary medicine and expedition or wilderness medicine, in combination with the essential non-medical skills required to care for sick or injured people in a jungle environment. As a medic working within a jungle environment, you need to be able to identify that the symptoms presented suggest a tropical disease, and from that evaluation, be able to understand what that means for the person i.e. managing their symptoms or in extreme circumstances CASEVAC (casualty evacuation).

Why is Jungle Medicine needed?
With more people starting to travel, work and explore these distinctive regions across the globe, the need for medics with a unique range of medical and practical skills becomes even more important. As well as being one of the most difficult and extreme terrains in the world, the jungle is also home to a number of dangerous wildlife inhabits, including 17 species of snakes; seven of which can be deadly, plus scorpions, spiders, and other diverse wildlife.

It’s also important to note that population surges, as well as other inter-related factors such as globalisation, climate change and urbanisation, are challenges we need to consider when thinking about and entering a remote and tropical environment. Isolated and exotic locations are often lacking public health infrastructure, which means basic healthcare such as having safe water and adequate sanitation are real risks to the traveller and potentially could contribute to the spread of dangerous infectious diseases upon their return.

What skills do you need to practice Jungle Medicine?
Due to its diverse and challenging location, the practice of medicine within a jungle environment requires a unique set of skills to be able to:

  • Navigate
  • Create fire and cook
  • Build adequate shelter
  • Survive and thrive in such an extreme environment
  • Provide medical care
  • Understand endemic diseases

Who practices Jungle Medicine?
With many tropical and jungle research expeditions and projects taking place in developing countries, where medical facilities are either non-existent or poor, it is vital that there are medical professionals on the ground with the practical skills, knowledge and understanding needed to perform in highly complex and demanding situations.

Alongside the skills already gained from such fields as pre-hospital medicine and primary healthcare, medics will also need to know how to manage envenomation (exposure to a poison or toxin from a bite or sting), have practical survival skills to support both themselves and their party, logistical knowledge and be able to identify and manage symptoms of tropical disease relevant to their environment.

The future of Jungle Medicine
As the environment becomes incrementally more extreme, more accessible to the wider population for exploration, and open to inter-related challenges such as climate change and globalisation, demand is now dictating the need to take a holistic and interdisciplinary approach when thinking about practising medicine in these new and unfamiliar terrains.

The planning and execution of self-care and the care for others are vital lessons to be learnt in this environment – attention to detail is key!

Introducing the World Extreme Medicine Jungle Medicine Course
Due to the importance of this subject and with such growing demand for medical skills in this field, as remote locations are more accessible, we have developed an exciting and comprehensive Jungle Medicine course for all those medical professionals responsible for clients, patients or team members in a sub-tropical or jungle environment.

This course is open and ideal for all Medical and Allied Health Professionals as well as medical students in their final year of study. This interesting subject is explored in great depth by an expert faculty and will provide practical survival skills, an overview of tropical medicine, logistical knowledge and pre-hospital skills required on a jungle expedition that can then be utilised in real-life situations.

The course enables attendees to:

  • Increase their knowledge about Jungle Medicine and equip medics with practical survival skills, an overview of tropical medicine, logistical knowledge and pre-hospital skills required on a jungle expedition all while immersed in the environment.
  • Acquire and develop specific survival skills for Jungle Medicine and standard operating procedures applicable to a jungle environment
  • Develop leadership and decision making skills required when working in resource-limited environments
  • Enhance knowledge and skills relating to understanding, diagnosing and treating heat-related illness and hydration
  • Improve environmental awareness enabling a greater ability to plan, risk assess and set yourself up for successful expeditions in one of the world’s most challenging climates

Through fully immersive learning, deep in the stunning tropical rainforests of Costa Rica, this action-packed course provides both hands-on practical and theory-based elements and will give you an appreciation of how triple canopy can affect casevac, navigation, planning & execution of care. You’ll learn a range of survival and camp skills that are vitally important, including water treatment and methods of making water potable, minor & major wound care, hydration and how to avoid dehydration. We also teach fundamental skills of how to treat snake bites and other wildlife injuries, plus public health and self-care principles that are crucial in this environment where small blisters or sores can end your travels early if not dealt with properly.

Find out more about our Jungle Medicine course here, and if you need a little more convincing that this is the course for you, read our other Jungle Medicine related blogs which will reaffirm why this course is what you need to #BeExtreme.

 

Other blogs that may be of interest, include:

The Dr Who who stayed at home

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Extreme Medicine Fellow, Dr Rosie Alterman, explains why she is the Dr Who who stayed at home!

What’s your background?

I currently spend 80% of my time working as a Middle Grade Doctor in the Emergency Department at the Royal Devon & Exeter NHS Foundation Trust and 20% studying for a Masters in Extreme Medicine at Exeter University. In my spare time I’m a keen triathlete, volunteer for the RNLI and am trying to conquer the South West Coast Path with my dog, Stan.

Why did you sign up for the Masters program?

I have always thought World Extreme Medicine was a fantastic organisation. Having attended the annual WEM Conference on several occasions I was incredibly inspired by the speakers and how they have used their medical degrees and WEM offers the perfect stepping stone for such opportunities. 2 years ago I had a job lined up in Australia, and in a desperate attempt to stop me from moving to the other side of the world, my boyfriend (who is based in Plymouth) found the Extreme Medicine Fellow job.

It’s the only job which would have kept me in the country.

To have a job where I can combine training in an outstanding Emergency Department with studying for a Masters with World Extreme Medicine was a dream come true!

Has it met your expectations?
Definitely. During the first two years of the course, I have had the opportunity to learn about expedition, humanitarian, conflict, pre-hospital and trauma medicine in locations varying from Costa Rica to Norway to the Lake District. The course is well organised and the assignments have allowed me to develop my own interests further. However, the best thing has been the inspiring people I have met including the faculty (often world-leading experts) and other students.

What are your plans for the future?
Inspired by WEM speakers, myself and Charlie (another Extreme Medicine Fellow and friend!) have decided to row the Atlantic next year. As well as being a great personal challenge, this will enable me to develop my specific interest in females undertaking ultra-endurance sporting events and why we are increasingly equalling or even beating the boys! Alongside this, I’m planning to continue my Emergency Medicine training and working with WEM on the Ocean Medicine Course.

Who is your favourite faculty member?
Impossible to say!

#BeExtreme
#WEMAcademic 
#WEMCourses
#WEMConference

To support Rosie’s & Charlies row across the Atlantic 3000 miles from La Gomera to Antigua, often
considered as the world’s toughest rowing race thanks to its huge physical and mental challenges check out their Ocean Rowing website…

The Dr Who who stayed at home!

Thinking of a Jungle-based medical career?

Join us in the stunning Costa Rican tropical rainforest for a fully immersive, action packed jungle experience. This thrilling, practical 7-day course gives you the opportunity to experience and become fully immersed in a jungle environment. You’ll kick off your epic adventure by white water rafting into camp, trek through the jungle taking in the beautiful scenery, as well as experience an overnight stay in your own self-made camp.

Led by our expert team, all of whom bring a phenomenal amount of expertise and knowledge of jungle and tropical environments, you’ll learn the essential medical skills required to care for and treat illnesses and injuries common to this harsh environment, plus basic navigation and camp craft skills for use in this complex training environment.

The course enables attendees to:

  • Increase their knowledge about Jungle Medicine and equip medics with practical survival skills, an overview of tropical medicine, logistical knowledge and pre-hospital skills required on a jungle expedition all while immersed in the environment
  • Acquire and develop specific survival skills for Jungle Medicine and standard operating procedures applicable to a jungle environment
  • Develop leadership and decision making skills required when working in resource-limited environments
  • Enhance knowledge and skills relating to understanding, diagnosing and treating heat related illness and hydration
  • Improve environmental awareness enabling a greater ability to plan, risk assess and set yourself up fro successful expeditions in one of the world’s most challenging climates

What will l learn on the Jungle Medicine course?
Through hands-on (learning by doing) workshops and scenarios, this highly practical course is supported by a comprehensive curriculum of tropical medicine, logistical knowledge and pre-hospital skills, taught through lectures and fully immersive workshops. You’ll cover a range of topics, such as managing snake, scorpion and spider envenomations, primary survey and basic navigation in the jungle, casevac drills as well as managing fever in the tropics, all preparing you for expeditions, work and micro-adventures in tropical and jungle environments.

How could attending the Jungle Medicine course further my career?
Our Jungle Medicine course is a great introduction into specific jungle expeditions as well as longer expeditions or even taking on a medical role within this unique environment. Attending this course will give you a unique set of skills, plus an appreciation of how triple canopy can affect casevac (extracting casualties), navigation, planning & execution of care.

Who would benefit from attending this course?
Jungle Medicine offers an exciting combination of medical practice in a tropical environment, so any Medical or Allied Health Professional who is involved in medicine in the outdoors and is interested or considering accompanying a tropical or jungle expedition would benefit the most. If you are willing to think and work outside your comfort zone this is a great course for you.

With the role of an expedition medic requiring many skills, our Jungle Medicine course offers the perfect opportunity to learn new skills and enhance your expedition knowledge as well as focus on tropical medicine and survival skills in the extreme.

Don’t just take our word for how amazing this course is, Kevin, a 2019 Jungle Medicine course attendee said:

I took the course in 2019 and it was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. Excellent blend of teaching and practical skills that really boosted my confidence in pursuing a career in expeditionary medicine

Where else in the world could you receive such hands-on experience, be part of a unique learning opportunity and have an adventure of a lifetime. To find out more and to experience our Jungle Medicine course for yourself, please click here.

Take your EXTREME medical career to the next level – book your place today!

Adventure is good for your clinical career!

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The evidence keeps on coming – combining your clinical career and  #ADVENTURE is #GOOD for you!

A recent article in BMC Psychiatry highlights the positive mental impact of combining your clinical career with adventure.

There has been a recent swarth of well-researched article and papers highlighting the health benefits, both physical and mental, of adventure on patients.

However, we are all very well aware that being a medical professional carries with it its own burden of mental health stresses and pressures, so assessing the work/life balance for us is increasingly important too.

Anecdotally we at World Extreme Medicine have been aware for many years how beneficial being an expedition medic can be to both your mental health but also your career. Taking your medical skills to remote areas increases your ability to think outside the box, to innovate. It also helps to develop teamworking skills, mental robustness, empathy and also brings back to your regular workplace new procedures and an greater appreciation for the resources of a modern healthcare system.

The paper in the BMC Psychiatry focuses on ‘Indoor rock climbing (bouldering) as a new treatment for depression: study design of a waitlist-controlled randomized group pilot study and the first results’  but the extrapolation is clear.

Depression is one of the most common diseases world- wide with a one-year prevalence of 3.2 % according to the WHO World Health Survey 2007 [1]. It is one of the chronic illnesses that causes the greatest decrement in health [1]. In recent decades, there has been growing evidence [2–10] that physical activity has an important influence on mood, and thus, it has been proposed as a potential treatment for depression… <#readmore>

Further resources

Join World Extreme Medicine in the Italian Alps for a week focusing on the important topic of Mental Wellness and Leadership for medics and clinicians.*

‘In order to get well you need to have a friend and insight’.

A great summary from Emma, Paramedic, about lessons learnt at the WEMSki Conference.

A few years ago, World Extreme Medicine (WEM) asked itself the question ‘who takes care of the carers?’  when it came to medical professionals working in ‘extremes’; in war zones, as expedition medics, paramedics, as an isolated and overwhelmed GP, or as a nurse in a busy Emergency Department.

We then asked ourselves the question what can WEM do to help?’ and we came up with our answer: WEMSki.

WEMski is a week of learning focused on mental health awareness on both a personal and team level. The timetable features a whole host of inspirational faculty and content created with extreme environment specialist Dr Kate Baecher, looking at the clinical psychology of leadership and teamwork in a variety of stressful working environments.

Professor Chris Imray talks about a clinical career, leaving a legacy and his passion for expeditions and adventure <readmore>.

Enter the world of Expedition Medicine by joining us on a Foundation Course

Focus on Extreme Medicine Clinical Fellow Dr Charlotte Fleury

MSc in Extreme Medicine Clinical Fellow Dr Charlotte Fleury.

Whats your background?
I work as a Registrar in Exeter’s Emergency Department Royal Devon & Exeter NHS Foundation Trust following the CESR pathway and have a keen interest in pre-hospital medicine, becoming an Extreme Medicine Doctor plus I have a great love of the outdoors.

Why did you sign up for the Masters program?
There is simply no other #Masters that offers modules in pre-hospital, humanitarian & disaster relief and specialist austere environments including space medicine. I wanted to challenge myself and gain knowledge in these areas to have the credibility behind me to carry out pre-hospital work and an Extreme Medicine Doctor on expeditions. I’m extremely privileged to have secured this Masters combined with a 3-year Extreme Medicine Clinical Fellowship in Exeter’s #Emergency Department allowing me to remain in Exeter for three years, which in turn has allowed personal career development (without burnout) and to work with a fantastic team in the Emergency Department.

Has it met your expectations?
The Masters in Extreme Medicine has exceeded my expectations. Not only do you gain specialist skills and knowledge you require to thrive in austere environments from leading world specialists, but you also develop human factor skills which are invaluable.

I have been able to transfer these to my working day job improving my leadership, communication and team dynamics in stressful situations such as Resus scenarios. This, in turn, leads to delivering better quality patient care, something we strive to achieve as medics.

What are your plans for the future?
Through knowledge gained on the Master’s and the most fantastic networking opportunities, I have now entered the Talisker Whiskey Atlantic Challenge Ocean Row 2020 with a close friend and colleague, Dr Rosie Alterman. This means immediate plans are to fundraise and train to row the gruesome 3000 miles from the Canaries to Antigua along with conducting research in the field of women in ultra-endurance sports – so watch this space! https://www.emergenseagirls.com/crewplease support us!!

Who is your favourite faculty member?
With her stunning blue eyes, welcoming and affectionate approach, I would have to say Anya! (World Extreme Medicine dog).

#BeExtreme
MSc in Extreme Medicine at University of Exeter Medical School.

Courses
Expedition & Wilderness Medicine course – good reasons to attend!

Further reading
Why becoming a Extreme Medicine Doctor is good for you and your career!

Interview with Dr Adam Baker, Extreme Medicine Clinical Fellow

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Extreme Medicine Clinical Fellow Dr Adam Baker at the Royal Devon & Exeter NHS Foundation Trust.

What’s your background?
I’m an Emergency Medicine Middlegrade going down the CESR pathway with an interest in pre hospital care and practicing medicine in austere environments and a Extreme Medicine Clinical Fellow at the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital Trust.
 
Why did you sign up for the masters program?
The expedition/ pre hospital/ humanitarian relief world is challenging to get into with little opportunities for formal teaching and qualifications. It’s easy to get burnt out working 100% on an ED rota and the masters looked like a perfect solution to gain some incredible skills and practice medicine in a different context and the chance to become a Extreme Medicine Clinical Fellow was too good an opportunity to miss.
 
Has it met your expectations?
Absolutely, the masters, and being Extreme Medicine Clinical Fellow, has lead to some absolutely incredible opportunities and networking
 
What are your plans for the future?
I aim to take a year out after the masters has finished to work within the pre hospital/humanitarian environment and utilise the skills that I’ve learned.
 
Interested in discovering a world of medicine with an International Diploma & MSc in Extreme Medicine University of Exeter?

With the increased awareness of global burdens such as humanitarian crises and sudden onset disasters, more than ever there is a need to be delivering healthcare in highly complex and demanding situations.

This unique programme is delivered in partnership between the University of Exeter Medical School and World Extreme Medicine, the world’s leading provider of specialist training courses for medics taking their skills into challenging environments.

This is medicine at its best, crossing geographical and professional boundaries.

You will learn the practical skills, knowledge and understanding needed to perform at the highest possible level in the field of extreme medicine. You can also choose to undertake a specialism in Cold Environments, Hot Environments or Humanitarian Relief.

You will learn with and from your peers. Residentials are a key part of the programme; designed to provide the challenge of learning in an unfamiliar environment and relying on the collaboration and support of the other participants.

The residentials include locations in the UK as well as environment-specific modules located in mountain, jungle and Polar Regions.

On top of our residential modules, we have established some fantastic links with external agencies that our students can exploit whilst they are on the programme. These include:

• Fellowship Principles of Space & Aviation Medicine at the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) – students enrolled undertaking year 2 or 3 of this programme are eligible to apply for this unique opportunity. Places are competitive and will require a month’s residency in Houston, Texas.

• We have a number of exchange places with the European Space Agency and their Physician Training Course in Cologne open to those enrolled on our MSc.

This programme is suitable for those from a wide variety of backgrounds. Students have included:

• Paramedics
• Medics
• Nurses
• Medical scientists
• Allied healthcare
• Military medics

You will be working or looking to work in situations of rapid change and uncertainty and you 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 mission to make the exceptional happen, by challenging traditional thinking and defying conventional boundaries.

Read more at Exeter University Medical School

#BeExtreme

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

We brought together a remarkable teaching faculty for our Expedition & Wilderness Medicine course that took place place in Slovenia this October 2019; 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 shared their extensive knowledge and skills to give a comprehensive understanding of how to lead and provide medical cover on expeditions.

Meet this highly specialised team who delivered an unrivalled syllabus of content:

Ben Watts, Paramedic & Expedition Leader

Ben Watts, Paramedic & Expedition LeaderBen has been a Paramedic since 2014 and is a Critical Care Paramedic on the Thames Valley Air Ambulance. With a particular interest in human factors both within pre-hospital medicine and the expedition arena, Ben’s interest in Expedition medicine has seen him take on medic roles on a number of remote expeditions in Canada.

He also has a penchant for wandering the great outdoors, as well as taking on big river expeditions and Whitewater paddling. so, when he’s not on a micro adventure or practicing medicine, you’ll find him teaching (another of his passions), especially trauma medicine and particularly when the training takes place outside!


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.


Emma Figures, Medical Doctor

Emma Figures, Medical DoctorIn 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!


Taryn Anderson, Clinical Nurse and Medic

Taryn Anderson, Clinical Nurse and MedicTaryn is a qualified nurse who trained in Australia and spent the first part of her career working as Nursing Officer in the Australian Army. During her time in the military she completed her Master’s in Public Health and Tropical Medicine and began providing healthcare to in complex remote environments including Kenya, Papua New Guinea and remote Australia.

Moving to the UK in 2015, Taryn began to seek out further clinical challenges and responded to the Ebola epidemic in West Africa as both a Clinician and the Senior Nurse overseeing the Ebola Treatment Centre, which involved developing protocols for stringent infection prevention and control procedures and a comprehensive training program for staff.

During the battle for Mosul, Taryn worked with the World Health Organisation (WHO) as Clinical Coordinator over the course of 12 months helping to establish and run three field hospitals providing damage control resuscitation for trauma patients and two maternity hospitals to provide obstetric care to the people of Mosul.

Taryn has also responded as part of disaster relief efforts providing medical cover to teams deploying to Haiti, Nepal and Mozambique but most recently has been working for WEM providing medical support to a TV production in the South Pacific. She continues to regularly return to work in Australia as a Remote Area Nurse providing medical support to some of the remotest areas of the country and is currently enjoying exploring the South of England after a recent move.


Roger Alcock, Consultant in Emergency Medicine and Paediatric Emergency Medicine

Roger Alcock, Consultant in Emergency Medicine and Paediatric Emergency MedicineRoger is a Scottish Patient Safety Programme Fellow who trained in the UK, New Zealand and Sweden. He has previously worked for Kent, Surrey and Sussex Helicopter Emergency Medical Service. (HEMS) and now currently instructs on Advanced Trauma, Medical and Paediatric Life Support in the UK and overseas. As an Educational Coordinator for Emergency Medicine at the Scottish Centre for Simulation and Clinical Human Factors he has designed, developed and delivered multiple high-fidelity simulation courses.

In 2012 and 2013 he trained and mentored clinicians in the first Malawian Emergency Department as part of a bilateral governmental aid programme and has also worked in collaboration with the World Health Organisation in Jordan and Erbil, where he helped to run the first multi-disciplinary and multi-agency Chemical Exposure and Trauma Care simulation training in Kurdistan.

In response to the Ebola epidemic in West Africa, in November 2014 he helped lead an NHS team within the first cohort of volunteers deployed by the UK Government and has also been deployed to the Caribbean post Hurricane Irma. Roger is an active member of the UK Emergency Medical Team supporting affected countries in the immediate aftermath of a humanitarian emergency.

Combining city centre living with his love of the outdoors – cycling, hill walking and long-distance running, medicine in austere environments is his passion and he has extensive expedition and ultra-marathon experience throughout Europe including Arctic Norway, Antarctica, Oceania, the Middle East, Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, Central and South America. Roger regularly teaches on Expedition and Wilderness Medicine courses in the UK and abroad.


Jamie Pattison, Medical Officer for Northumberland National Park Mountain Rescue Team

Jamie Pattison, Medical Officer for Northumberland National Park Mountain Rescue TeamJamie grew up in the wilds of Northumberland, where this endless empty landscape instilled a sense of adventure and a desire to explore every corner of the world and to help others do the same. Believing that travel, endeavour and adventure are the best teachers in the world, Jamie has travelled extensively, but finds that his heart beats hardest in cold and mountainous environments; rather unsurprisingly for a Geordie. This passion for the unknown has taken him from the Deserts of North Africa to the Arctic Tundra of Greenland and Svalbard. An adventure athlete, climber, surfer, runner, mountaineer, he believes in challenging yourself and pushing your limits in every opportunity.

Jamie found his other great passion, pre-hospital care when he joined Northumberland National Park Mountain Rescue Team, where at the age of 23, he became the team’s youngest ever Medical Officer, and is now a qualified Rope rescue supervisor, water rescue first responder and MR medic, working hard to develop the remote medical care NNPMRT provide. Having completed his UK HEMS crew training, Jamie spends his spare time working for the North East Ambulance Service on the road.

In April 2016, Jamie took part in the Iceman Polar race in Greenland, billed as the ‘Toughest Arctic ski race in the world’. After 5 days of skiing, avoiding polar bears and a storm, Jamie and his team mates won the race, with a time of 22 hours and 23 minutes.


Burjor Langdana, Expedition Dentist

Burjor Langdana, Expedition DentistBurjor 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.


Claire Grogan, Emergency Medicine Doctor

Claire Grogan, Emergency Medicine DoctorClaire is an Emergency Medicine doctor with a passion for expedition and remote medicine. She has provided medical support for expeditions in many environments, but mostly enjoys working in cold & polar regions.

She enjoys spending time in the Arctic and has worked as Ship’s Doctor for a polar expedition cruise to 81 degrees North, has been part of expeditions in the Trollheim of North West Svalbard, and has crossed Finnmarksvidda & Hardangervidda plateau’s in Norway.

Claire is helping set up the Global Polar & Altitude Metabolic Research Registry at the Human Metabolic Research Unit and the University of Coventry and is a member of the Medical Advisory Group at the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG). Earlier this year she was the doctor for the Weddell Sea Expedition 2019, an international scientific expedition that explored the area around the Larsen C ice shelf and Antarctic Peninsula.

Claire has just returned from a 583km ski crossing of the Greenland Icecap, the 2nd largest ice sheet in the world, which saw an expedition team of 5 cross from West to East in 25 days.

In 2015, whilst working at a high altitude rescue post in the Everest Region of Nepal, she was caught up in the 7.8M earthquake that struck the region and joined a relief team from Australian Himalayan Foundation to deliver Aid and carry out a reconnaissance and needs assessment in a remote mountainous region of the Lower Solukhumbu.

After completing her medical degree in London and a BSc in Sports and Exercise Medicine, Claire went on to complete the Diploma in the Medical Care of Catastrophes (DMCC), and the Diploma in Tropical Medicine & Hygiene.


John Apps, WEM Polar Medicine Course Director New Zealand

John AppsHugely experienced, John is UK-trained GP, with extensive pre-hospital emergency care experience who moved to New Zealand where he initially worked in rural general practice before and now works in rural emergency departments, in between adventures.

He has worked ten summer seasons with Antarctic Logistics and Expeditions (ALE) in Antarctica, taken on multiple Himalayan tours, he’s been the chief MO on the Everest and North Pole marathons, served with the military in Afghanistan and North Africa and he’s an active Search and Rescue (SAR) team member in New Zealand.

Well known to WEM, John has assisted on many WEM courses, notably our Everest Base Camp trek as well as heading up our New Zealand Polar Medicine course.



Join us in October 2020 as our next Expedition and Wilderness course returns to the stunning Lake Bohinj in Slovenia. Learn from an incredibly experienced and knowledgeable team, and be part of something amazing. Book your place today!

Other blogs that may be of interest, include:

Original Extreme Medicine Research to be generated by MSc pair.

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Extreme Medicine MSc pair set to challenge the #Atlantic to carry-out original research.

We are incredibly excited to announce that Extreme Medicine MSc Fellowship students University of Exeter Dr’s Charlie Isabelle Fleury & Rosie Alterman are rowing 3000 miles under the team name ‘EmergencySea’ as part of the 2020 Talisker Whiskey Atlantic Challenge, “the worlds toughest row” to raise money for the Devon Air Ambulance Trust.

Importantly they will also be conducting original research into women in endurancesports as part of thier Extreme Medicine MSc.

The Challenge

The premier event in Ocean Rowing – the Atlantic Challenge  will take you more than 3000 miles west from San Sebastian in la Gomera, Canary Islands (28N 18W) to Nelson’s Dockyard English Harbour, Antigua & Barbuda (17N 61W). the annual race begins in early December, with up to 30 teams participating from around the world.

The Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge brings together teams from all walks of life united by the same objective: to take on the unique challenge of crossing an ocean in a rowing boat. The atmosphere is electric as people help each other prepare for the challenge of the mighty Atlantic Ocean. Teams battle with sleep deprivation, salt sores, and physical extremes inflicted by the race. Rowers are left with their own thoughts, an expanse of the ocean and the job of getting the boat safely to the other side.Crossing the Atlantic

International  Extreme Medicine MSc & Diploma at Exeter University Medical School

With the increased awareness of global burdens such as humanitarian crises and sudden onset disasters, more than ever there is a need to be delivering healthcare in highly complex and demanding situations.

The Extreme Medicine MSc is delivered in partnership between the University of Exeter Medical School and World Extreme Medicine, the world’s leading provider of specialist training courses for medics taking their skills into challenging environments.

This is medicine at its best, crossing geographical and professional boundaries.

You will learn the practical skills, knowledge and understanding needed to perform at the highest possible level in the field of extreme medicine. You can also choose to undertake a specialism in Cold Environments, Hot Environments or Humanitarian Relief.

You will learn with and from your peers. Residentials are a key part of the programme; designed to provide the challenge of learning in an unfamiliar environment and relying on the collaboration and support of the other participants.

On top of our residential modules, we have established some fantastic links with external agencies that our students can exploit whilst they are on the programme. These include:

• Fellowship Principles of Space & Aviation Medicine at the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB)- students enrolled undertaking year 2 or 3 of this programme are eligible to apply for this unique opportunity. Places are competitive and will require a month’s residency in Houston, Texas.

• We have a number of exchange places with the European Space Agency and their Physician Training Course in Cologne.  open to those enrolled on our MSc.

The Extreme Medicine MSc programme is suitable for those from a wide variety of backgrounds. Students have included:

• Paramedics
• Medics
• Nurses
• Medical scientists
• Allied healthcare
• Military medics

Read more at http://www.exeter.ac.uk/postgraduate/taught/medicine/extrememedicinemsc

#BeExtreme
#AtlanticRow
http://www.emergenseagirls.com

Thinking of a Polar-based medical career?

Join us on the edge of the Hardangervidda Plateau in Norway or in the stunning Southern Alps in New Zealand for an action-packed week of Polar & Expedition Medicine. This world-renowned practical course gives you the opportunity to experience and become fully immersed in a polar environment first hand, where you’ll travel by ski, snowshoes and dogsled as well as experience an overnight stay in your own carefully constructed snow shelter.

Led by our expert team, all of whom bring a phenomenal amount of expertise and knowledge of polar and high-altitude environments, you’ll learn the essential expedition medical skills required to care for and treat illnesses and injuries likely to occur in this harsh environment.

The course aims to enable attendees to:

  • Increase their knowledge about Polar Medicine and learn the essentials of polar travel, survival and cold weather medicine while immersed in a polar environment
  • Acquire and develop specific survival skills applicable to Polar Medicine
  • Develop leadership and decision making skills required when working in resource-limited environments
  • Enhance knowledge and skills relating to understanding, diagnosing and treating cold weather and altitude illnesses and injuries when presented
  • Understand and develop the non-technical skills required for Polar Medicine and Expeditions in general, such as leadership and decision making skills, teamwork and being able to work together in an under-resourced austere environment

What will l learn on the Polar Medicine course?
Through hands-on workshops and scenarios, this highly practical course is supported by a comprehensive curriculum of cold weather and altitude medicine, taught through lectures and fully immersive workshops. You’ll cover a range of topics, such as avalanche awareness, basic navigation, primary survival in the wilderness, pre-expedition planning as well as shelter construction and cold water immersion and hypothermia, all preparing you for work, expeditions and micro-adventures in polar and high-altitude environments.

Who would benefit from attending this course?
Expedition medicine offers an exciting combination of medical practice and the outdoors, so any health professional who is involved in medicine in the outdoors and is interested or considering accompanying a cold weather expedition would benefit the most. If you are willing to think and work outside the box this is a great course for you.

With the role of an expedition medic requiring many skills, our Polar Medicine course offers the perfect opportunity to learn new skills and enhance your basic expedition knowledge as well as focus on key cold weather and high-altitude survival skills in the extreme.

Mark Hannaford, Managing Director & Founder of World Extreme Medicine (WEM) said: “This course gives attendees the opportunity to challenge themselves in a real-life extreme environment, a polar setting is dramatically different from anywhere else on earth.

Our expert team of medics, logisticians and SAR professionals will be combining lectures, workshops and discussions with lots of hands-on experience to give course participants vital insight into the preparation required for an expedition as well as the ability to cope under pressure and perform to the best of their ability in an austere and resource-limited environment.

From this course, they can go anywhere. They could provide medical support for scientists working in Antarctica, become a medic on a polar expedition or with more training go on to work in other exciting areas and austere environments.

___________________

Where else in the world could you receive such hands-on experience, be part of a unique learning experience and have an adventure of a lifetime. To find out more and to experience our Polar Medicine course for yourself, please click here.

Take your EXTREME medical career to the next level – book your place today!

Photo Credit: Andrew Peacock

Release of the Paediatric Blast Injury Field Manual

A few months ago on the mainstage at #WEM18, Medical Historian Dr Emily Mayhew discussed her work alongside Save the Children, Imperial College London and a host of medical and operational experts in the creation of a new Paediatric Blast Injury Field Manual. 

The Manual, intended to be a comprehensive guide for local medical teams who are forced to operate on and treat children in remote environments and with limited training and resources, is the first of its kind to focus on paediatric blast injury from the point of wounding right through to the discharge of the patient from hospital, and beyond.

Last week witnessed the culmination of this fantastic team effort as the Manual was made available to the public. We caught up with Emily to see what she had to say about the release…

“I first spoke about the plans for our Paediatric Blast Injury Field Manual at WEM’s conference in 2018.  The interest and expert feedback I received from the WEM audience was really important in encouraging us to move forward with our concept of a Field Manual that could be used by all medical staff likely to encounter children injured by explosives – an incredibly challenging patient cohort.  We hope the result will be used by both medics and those who are required to plan for the treatment of severely injured children, in terms of resources, training and equipment.

We’ve produced the Field Manual to support medics with technical information that helps them adapt their existing knowledge to the needs of children and also to provide confidence in what can be a very difficult moment for even the most experienced teams.  We’ve incorporated sections on safeguarding, futility and psycho-social support – for the patients, their families and caregivers, and for the medics themselves who do this work.  

We hope it will be useful.  Please pass it around and come and find me at #WEM19 to share your thoughts”. 

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Why is this Manual needed? 

It is estimated that today, a fifth of children worldwide live in areas affected by conflict. This equates to approximately 420 million children living in conflict zones (Save the Children define this as an area within 50km of where one or more conflict events took place in a given year). Children living in these zones face an increased risk of injury as a result of explosive weapons, as well as a shortage of equipment and specialist knowledge when treating such injuries.

The Paediatric Blast Injury Field Manual is a durable, easy-to-use tool intended to bridge this gap, providing medical staff with the information needed to help make complex decisions about paediatric care.

 

The Manual is now available to download FREE from the Imperial College website.

Dr Mayhew will be at the World Extreme Medicine Conference in Edinburgh later this year and would love to hear your thoughts – grab your tickets here! 

 

 

Expedition Medicine: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s)

We asked our remarkable WEM faculty, many of who have a depth of experience, living and working in the most remote corners of the world, achieving notable success in the face of extreme challenge and adversity the most frequently asked questions they get asked regarding the iconic WEM Expedition Medicine Course.

What content do you cover in the Expedition and Wilderness Medicine course?
This comprehensive  foundation course covers a broad range of topics over the course of the 4 days of expedition medicine blending engaging lecture content with hands on practical workshops ending on the last day with a real-time search and rescue simulation. Attending the course will teach you the key skills essential to all expedition medics including:

  • Pre-expedition planning
  • Security on expeditions
  • Climate specific lectures
  • Group management, behaviour and CRM
  • Expedition dentistry
  • Mental health on expeditions
  • Hill skills
  • Wound care

Are these courses just for doctors?
No, expedition medicine opportunities are open to a wide range of medical professionals although doctors, nurses and paramedics are the most common roles advertised for. The good news is this list is growing as the range of practitioner roles within healthcare grows. We have also found that as the expedition world evolves and groups with more complex needs are commonly taking part in expeditions, the range of healthcare providers required can be incredibly varied.

Do I need experience?
No experience required, you’ll find on the course there is a huge mix of people with various degrees of expedition and travel experience. Throughout the course we’ll be discussing what skills are needed to build and make yourself a great expedition medic, but above all a great expedition team member or even leader. All we ask from you to really gain the most from this experience is a positive mindset and a thirst for adventure.

Do we get outside much?
Absolutely, we try and spend half the day outside so we can replicate real-life expedition conditions as much as possible. Typically this is come rain or shine, adverse conditions are all part of what makes expedition medicine so exciting, splinting a leg while dealing with soggy boots, soaking wet waterproofs, mud, driving rain, wind and on uneven ground is great fun…there again it could be lovely sunny t-shirt weather, you never can predict these things in the mountains. It’s uncommon to get enough time to stray too far into the hills so we suggest that people add another day or two to really enjoy the local environment. Plas y Brenin for example has a view of Snowdon from the bar and dining area, with the mountain in view it would be a shame not to set a few hours aside to get up there.

I’ve got a trip planned; will we be able to discuss it?
Yes, absolutely it’s actively encouraged and part of what are highly experienced faculty are here to help you with! We encourage as much interaction as possible; you can ask questions at any time and workshops session are highly interactive. Our team is with you all week and are always happy to chat about upcoming adventures, we find that breaks and meals are a great time to sit down and chat with the team about your plans.

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

To find out more information about our Expedition Medicine courses or to book your place on what we promise will be an incredibly inspiring few days, please click here.



Other blogs that may be of interest, include:


Interested in diving even deeper?

 

4 excellent reasons to choose our renowned Expedition and Wilderness Medicine course

If you’re a medic with a passion for adventure and travel looking to enhance your career then one of our internationally renowned Expedition and Wilderness Medicine courses is for you!

This comprehensive introductory training course in expedition and wilderness medicine brings together likeminded medics from a variety of backgrounds and career stages all sharing the same common desire – to bring more adventure into their careers and blend their passion for travel, adventure and the great outdoors with their medical skills. Our Expedition and Wilderness Medicine courses provides a good basic entry level into expedition medicine for those with no or little experience just beginning their extreme medicine journey. It’s also equally as useful for those who have previously been on expeditions as medics but are now wanting to add more strings to their bow.

With a 50/50 mix of engaging lecture content and hands on practical group work taking place over the first 3 days and evenings spent socialising, taking on challenge tasks and special guest lectures, the final day will focus on a search and rescue scenario where you’ll combine all your newly learnt skills to locate, rescue, treat and evacuate a casualty. Throughout the course you will be encouraged in new ways of thinking and new approaches to problem solving as well as challenging your abilities to adapt to unpredictable situations – a must-have when taking on any type of expedition.

4 excellent reasons to choose our Expedition and Wilderness Medicine course:

  • Earn CPD credits and further your career – add more adventure to your career and bring new challenges by learning and enhancing your knowledge and skill set to ensure you are in the best possible position to further your career. For those attending and completing the course, accreditation will be offered (we estimate 24 hours of CPD) through the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh.
  • Expedition and Wilderness topics explained – across the 4 days you’ll cover a broad range of topics including expedition planning, security, managing difficult people, dentistry, climate specific lectures, hill skills as well as having the unique opportunity to hear inspiring ‘real-life’ stories from the WEM faculty.
  • Practical hands on experience – throughout your time with us, there will be practical workshops on field-proven techniques to inspire and enhance your skills; helping you to become a more effective and highly valued practitioner of expedition and wilderness medicine.
  • Expert faculty – between them our remarkable expert team have a depth of knowledge and experience, living and working in the most remote corners of the world, achieving notable success in the face of extreme challenge and adversity.

If you needed any more reason to join us on our next course and take your career to the extreme, you might be interested to know Expedition and Wilderness Medicine course alumni have left to take part in expeditions across the globe, responded to natural disasters and emergencies and have gained placements with organisations such as Raleigh International, UK-Med, Team Rubicon and Médecins Sans Frontières.

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

I’ve literately spent my last 4 days messing around on hills and learning some expedition medicine. Would recommend ‘Expedition and Wilderness Medicine’ course from @ExpedMedicine to anyone who is interested in working outside of the hospital or GP practice.

George, 2019 Expedition and Wilderness Medicine course attendee

Take your first steps to becoming an expedition medic that could see you travelling the world, simply choose your preferred dates and location and book your place today!

March 2020 – Keswick
May 2020 – Plas y Brenin
October 2020 – Corfe Castle
Oct 2020 – Slovenia

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Other blogs that may be of interest, include:

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