Boundary-Pushing Speakers: From a Physiotherapist to a Firefighter Paramedic

19 July 2023

From intrepid adventurers and humanitarian medical workers to seasoned paramedics and inspiring clinicians, our latest World Extreme Medicine Conference speaker announcement brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the table. 

They have traversed the globe, from the frozen landscapes of the Arctic to the remote terrains of South Africa, providing medical care, conducting groundbreaking research, and fostering resilience in the most extreme circumstances.

In this blog, we will introduce you to some of our remarkable speakers, highlighting their career achievements and previewing their captivating sessions. 

Alex Taylor

Introducing Alex Taylor, an outstanding Emergency Medicine registrar with an unwavering passion for expedition medicine, global health, and pre-hospital care. Her remarkable career has taken her on journeys to all seven continents, from Kilimanjaro to Antarctica, the Amazon to Greenland, where she skied with the Polar Academy. Alex’s dedication to improving healthcare in underserved communities led her to volunteer as a global health fellow in rural South Africa, working with the ‘Tshemba Foundation’ to support Tintswalo Hospital.

In her conference session, “Transforming the System, whilst Transforming Yourself. Medical Volunteering in Rural South Africa,” Alex shares her inspiring four-month volunteer experience, shedding light on the challenges and triumphs of working with limited resources, navigating bureaucracy, and negotiating hospital politics. Through her experiences, she aims to inspire fellow emergency medicine trainees and specialists to explore global health opportunities and create positive change.

Ben LaBrot

Discover the transformative power of humanitarian volunteer work with Dr. Ben LaBrot at the World Extreme Medicine Conference 2023. As the Founder and CEO of Floating Doctors, Ben has dedicated his life to bringing essential medical aid to remote communities in need.

In his captivating session, “The Humanitarian Aid Butterfly Effect,” Ben will delve into the profound changes that occur within volunteers themselves during their service work. He will explore how these experiences can lead to personal growth, increased compassion, and a broader global perspective.

Join us to understand the long-term impact of humanitarian efforts and how volunteers’ transformed outlooks can create lasting value, both in their own lives and in the communities they serve.

Laura Penhaul

Step into the world of incredible achievements with Laura Penhaul at the World Extreme Medicine Conference 2023. Laura’s remarkable journey encompasses leading the first all-female crew to row the Pacific, setting two world records in a 9,000 nautical mile unsupported expedition. The Netflix documentary “Losing Sight of Shore” captured the audacity of their achievement.

As a lead physiotherapist, Laura’s expertise contributed to gold medal wins at four Paralympic and Olympic Games, while also supporting world records and tennis ranking improvements. Her exceptional skills as a performance manager led Mark Beaumont to his World Record achievement of cycling the world in 78 Days, and Naomi Osaka’s path to becoming world Number 1.

Drawing on her personal and professional experiences in high-performance sports and expeditions, Laura is now a performance consultant. She aims to unlock the full human potential of individuals and teams, helping them cross their own metaphorical Pacifics.

Barry McKenna

Having overcome Guillain Barre Syndrome as a teenager, Barry McKenna’s own transformative experience with physical fitness and exploration shaped his path towards a career in medicine.

In his conference session, “2000km Unsupported Kayaking Expedition in Alaska,” Barry will take you through the story of Team Forces of Nature’s 60 day kayaking expedition from Washington State to Alaska. The team, comprising able-bodied civilians and veterans with complex injuries, navigated Fjordlands and encountered breathtaking wildlife such as whales, orcas, and bears.

Discover the intricacies of medical and logistical planning for this awe-inspiring expedition, and learn how the team provides essential medical, psychological, and practical support throughout their journey.

Mabli Wyn Davies

Join Dr. Mabli Wyn Davies, an anaesthetics trainee in Central Manchester, as she sheds light on an essential yet often overlooked aspect of expedition medicine. 

With a PGDiploma and MSc in Expedition and Wilderness Medicine, Mabli’s expertise is fueled by personal challenges she faced with her menstrual cycle during expeditions. Her MSc dissertation on menstruation management and suppression in austere environments delves into the physical, psychological, and environmental challenges females encounter during their menstrual cycles on expeditions.

As a passionate advocate for female health and inclusivity on expeditions, Mabli aims to create a safe environment for women to explore and achieve their personal goals. By sharing her findings and insights, she hopes to empower females to take control of their cycles and encourage more women to participate in adventurous activities.

Don’t miss Mabli’s enlightening talk, “How many bloody days on expedition?! Understanding women’s health in austere environments,” where she will pave the way for increased inclusivity and knowledge in expedition medicine.

Benjamin Watts

Introducing Benjamin Watts, a seasoned paramedic and daring adventurer, driven by a passion for teaching and sharing his extensive knowledge. With numerous expeditions under his belt, from the Yukon to Nepal and Jordan, Ben’s thirst for exploration knows no bounds.

As an Advanced Retrieval Practitioner for the Emergency Medical Retrieval Service, Ben boasts over a decade of pre-hospital experience and holds the prestigious DipIMC qualification. His current role as a Critical Care Paramedic allows him to specialise in trauma, human factors, and non-technical skills, making him a true expert in the field.

At the World Extreme Medicine Conference 2023, Ben will take the stage to impart his invaluable insights and expertise, inspiring fellow medical professionals to push the boundaries of possibility in the most extreme environments. 

Meaghan Wheeler-Grange

Meet Meaghan Wheeler-Grange, a firefighter paramedic from Jackson Hole, Wyoming, who brings her expertise in snow science, avalanche rescue, and wilderness medicine to the World Extreme Medicine Conference 2023.

With extensive experience as a Heli-ski guide in Alaska’s Chugach Mountains and teaching for the Jackson Hole Outdoor Leadership School and Ski Club, Meaghan is passionate about sharing her knowledge and skills with fellow outdoor enthusiasts.

In her captivating talk, “TRAPPED IN THE SNOW! Bringing a Pit Crew Approach to Avalanche Rescue,” Meaghan will be joined by Kevin Grange, to shed light on the critical aspects of avalanche rescue and how applying a pit crew approach can make all the difference in saving lives during such emergencies.

Saleyha Ahsan

In Dr. Saleyha Ahsan’s captivating talk, “Healthcare as a Weapon of War,” attendees at the World Extreme Medicine Conference 2023 will gain insights into the disturbing trend of using healthcare provision and restriction as tactics in armed conflicts. Saleyha ‘s extensive experience as an emergency medicine doctor and her ongoing research on the impact of attacks against healthcare in armed conflict make her a leading authority on this critical issue.

Through her session, participants will explore the multidimensional and subtle ways state and non-state actors exploit medical capabilities to achieve their objectives on the battlefield. Attendees will learn about practices such as targeting health care facilities, influencing health workers, and using medicine as a cover for intelligence gathering and direct actions.

Emphasising the need for documentation, accountability, and international response to halt these alarming practices and safeguard humanitarian principles.


Our speakers for the World Extreme Medicine Conference promises an impressive lineup, with more exciting announcements to come soon. Don’t miss this opportunity to learn from experts with unique experiences and knowledge in extreme medicine.

→ Register for this year’s World Extreme Medicine Conference now! 

Checkout our other speaker announcements so far…


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