Volunteering in Zambia

 

Life In Luangwa , Zambia

“Doctor Emergency”! I had seen the blood spattered wheelbarrow parked on the veranda that served as the waiting room and now the sign of the shuffling flip flops told me I was about to meet its occupant. He entered the room uncertainly, supported between his two inebriated friends. The blood soaked tea towel adorning his head giving a big clue as to his presenting complaint. Removal revealed a 7inch gash across his forehead down to the skull. His helpful friends informed me it had been inflicted by an axe, two nights ago, in a fight and they excitedly asked me to examine his leg which had been stabbed by a spear.
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Essential Healthcare in Ethiopia

Essential Healthcare Amid Dust and Desolation in Southeast Ethiopia
MSF doctor Anna Greenham describes work and life in the Somali region of Ethiopia

“Life in the Somali region of Ethiopia is tough. The rains have failed, food is running out and even the camels are dying of thirst. Add to this a complex armed conflict and you have a recipe for disaster. Nomadic people can’t find water or grazing for their livestock and are forced to travel huge distances to survive. Many have lost everything. Without a livelihood they move to the edge of towns where they live in squalid conditions in very basic shelters, unable to access clean water or food. It is in one of these small rural towns, Wardher, that MSF provides the only reliable health care for a dispersed population of about 40,000 people.

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Sir Chris Bonnington speaks at Expedition and Wilderness Course

We are delighted to announce that Sir Chris Bonington will be delivering the Rupert Bennett Memorial lecture.

Our next Expedition and Wilderness Medicine training courses are in March and May 2010 and we are very excited to have booked the prestigious Plas y Brenin National Mountain Centre, North Wales for the course in May.

News just in…Namibia Ultra Marathon completed

We’ve just heard from the Namibia Ultra Marathon race director Steve Clark, that everyone is now back in Swakopmund. Steve said the race was very tough with temperatures getting up to 42 ºc. Winner Darren Roberts was very surprised and shocked to hear he won the race but once it sunk in he was delighted. Tom Adams very nearly caught Darren up at the finish line which made it a nail-biting finish.

Namibia 24-hr Ultra Marathon Results are as follows:

1st Place – Darren Roberts 20hr 28

2nd Place – Tom Adams 20hr 29

3rd Place – Tom Maguire 21 hr 05

4th Place – Emma Rogan 21 hr 27 – First female to complete the Namibia 24-hr Ultra Marathon

5th Place – Jerry Haywood 22 hr 30

6th Place – Nick Tidbull 23 hr 17

7th Place – Nicholas Wright 23 hr 45

8th Place – Helen Skelton 23 hr 50 – BBC Blue Peter Presenter

9th Place – Adrian Crossley, Stuart Moore, Kellie Power & Michael Skakesheff 25 hr 07. These guys all crossed the line together holding hands, they were all just outside the 24 hour deadline but all were allowed to finish.

Dr Amy Hughes will when she’s back write up about the medical situations she was faced with on the race and how people coped with the extreme heat.

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Diving and Marine Medicine Course in Oman -feedback from Dr Mark Read

For medics interested in working on a diving or kayaking expedition, how do you get relevant experience and information at a one-stop shop?

You could read lots of books about diving medicine, combine this with lots of diving and kayaking, but the question can still be asked, “How do I round off the experience and is there a course tailer-made for medics like you?”

 
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A participant’s write up – Polar Medicine Training Course February 2008

Polar Medicine Training Course | Norway

The setting for this year’s polar medicine training course was Alta, a small settlement, 72 degrees north and well within the arctic circle. A place with a deserted high street where you would be lucky to see one other passer by every 15 minutes, easily explained by a temperature at least ten degrees below freezing and a good foot of snow on the ground.

Base camp was a 40 km drive along icy roads to a picturesque mountain lodge by the name of Ongajoksetra. At the higher altitude the temperature was that much lower and if a wind was blowing, temperatures as low as minus fifty could be achieved. We were introduced to the Scandinavian team who would teach us methods of navigation across such tough terrain in harsh conditions and also to the Expedition Medicine team who would teach us polar medicine in a series of lectures and practical sessions both in the classroom and in the field. One more group I must not forget to mention is the team of fifty sled dogs who would provide another mode of transport across the snow.

Dr Claire Roche, Polar MedicineMy first day involved skidooing up a mountain demonstrating the importance of protective clothing, navigation aids and preparation for travel in severe blizzards with visibility of approximately two metres, sudden drops in temperature and rapid weather changes. I realised that without our trustworthy guide, Espen Ottem, we could become hopelessly lost in such conditions where you would be unable to survive more than a couple of hours at most. Our dog sledding guide, Pre-Thore was the perfect example of this as he told us of the time where inadequate preparation resulted in frostbite, blackening of his fingertips but fortunately no amputation. This story made me somewhat paranoid about the daily pain and numbness in my hands and feet when outside in the cold for prolonged periods. A “buddy system” was paramount to preventing frostnip. Simply by having that small exposed area of skin, pointed out to you to cover up

Dr Leslie Thomson, a consultant anaesthetist who had first – hand experience of polar medicine after spending several years in Antarctica taking part in the British Antarctic Survey gave an excellent lecture on hypothermia, bringing home how hypothermia is not just a condition seen near the poles but also in the Saturday night party goer who collapses under the stars, the homeless and the elderly. We were taught how to treat by various re-warming methods and when to commence C.P.R in the hypothermic patient sending home the message of not pronouncing death until warm and dead in certain individuals. This information was demonstrated by the story of Dr Anna Bagenholm , a 29 year old doctor who fell into icy water whilst skiing in Northern Sweden, immersed for approximately an hour, her body temperature was 13.7 degrees centigrade. C.P.R continued for three and a half hours alongside re-warming techniques such as bypass, bladder / stomach / peritoneal lavage and warm intravenous fluids. She survived to become the person with the lowest body temperature ever to survive.

Expedition and Wilderness Medicine obviously feel that first- hand experience is the best way of teaching and as a result each member of the group had to undergo cold water immersion. Prior to undertaking this challenge we were kindly taught about the cardiac arrhythmias that can be induced by the shock of entering the water, the short term cold water gasp reflex increasing the chance of aspiration and swimmers failure! One by one we stepped up to an ice hole in our thermal underwear and in the more daring members of the group a little less! to swim across icy water. I can confidently say that was the coldest I had ever been. As if several knives had been plunged into my body, breath taking and inducing chest pain, I swam across water of ridiculously low temperature to attempt getting out of the hole using my ski poles

Of our nights spent in the field we were taught how to construct snow holes. Five hours later our own little home with two double beds, stove, cupboards and shelves for our candles was constructed. It was as comfortable as it could be on a mountain side with winds blowing outside dropping the temperature to twenty below. I was amazed that the snow hole was so warm at five degrees compared to the outside however a slight air of nervousness was in the back of my mind as my avalanche detector slowly flashed in the corner and a rope attached to a spade inside connected our holes to other holes in case of us having to be dug out. The course perfectly demonstrated how to survive in such conditions

In summary the course prepared 25 everyday doctors to be able to traverse the polar landscape, recognise and competently treat local cold injury and hypothermia as well as to be safe expedition medics capable of caring for their groups and evacuating when required. To spend a week in such a location gave me the upmost respect for those who live in these regions and cross the landscape as part of everyday life, as well as a great respect for the land. In a day and age of global warming and melting of the polar ice caps it becomes paramount to look after our environment, to take only photographs and to leave only footprints.

Dr Claire Roche, Clinical Fellow in Emergency Medicine Countess of Chester Hospital.  See the BMJ article.

The next expedition medicine course will be in Desert Medicine Course which will be held in Namibia, August 17th -23rd 2008.

To see the full range of Expedition and Wilderness Medicine Training Courses see here.

Desert Medicine Training Course | Namibia

Expedition & Wilderness Medicine | Flickr Group


Expedition Medicine
Originally uploaded by Mark Hannaford

We have set up a flickr group for Expeditions and Expedition Medicine- for those of you that don’t know what this is its an on-line photo gallery where you can upload your images to share with friends and stuff like that.

What we have done is invite upload our own images and invite other people to contribute theirs to make on on-line resource for those of you wanting to put together training lectures and presentations on EM.

Here’s the link, but why not join as well and add you images to the pool?

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Hi, I’m an admin for a group called Expedition and Wilderness Medicine, and we’d love to have your photo added to the group.

Why not become a member of the Expedition and Wilderness Medicine Group and help others to teach others – we’d love to meet you!

Expedition Medicine course