Polar Medicine Training Course – sign up discount

Sign up Discount available for limited period

For a limited time only Expedition and Wilderness Medicine are offering £100 of our legendary Polar Medicine Course from the 7th to the 13th of February 2010 to be held in Alta, northern Norway.  Contact Rosi for more details.

‘Probably one of the best courses that you will ever do!’ ‘Incredibly well organised, and presented with an infectious enthusiasm’ Past EML delegate.

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Expedition and Wilderness Medicine Director visits South Georgia

Black and White view of South Georgia

Black and White view of South Georgia

In March of this year Mark Hannaford was lucky enough to get a fantastic photographic project down to South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands with the Scott Polar Research Institute (http://www.spri.cam.ac.uk ) and the South Georgia Heritage Trust (http://www.sght.org ).

Mark tells us about this project, SPRI and the amazing history behind these islands. “Prior to landing I asked a colleague, well known naturalist Dr Peter Cary, if it was realistic to compare South Georgia with the Galapagos Islands and his reply ‘only if you want to downplay South Georgia’. Which surprised me but the islands lived up to and exceeded any expectations that I had.

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Expedition and Wilderness Medicine is chosen to provide backstop support for Pen Hadows latest expedition to the pole

The Catlin Arctic Survey

The Catlin Arctic Survey

Pen Hadows latest expedition supported by HRH Prince of Wales is to be supported by the medical resources of Expedition and Wilderness Medicine.

 

The Catlin Arctic Survey Expedition is an international collaboration between polar explorers and some of the world’s foremost scientific bodies. It seeks to resolve one of the most important environmental questions of our time:

How long will the Arctic Ocean’s sea ice cover remain a permanent feature of our planet?

The team will be travelling on foot, hauling sledges from 80°N 140°W, across 1200-km of disintegrating and shifting sea ice, for around 100 days, in temperatures from 0ºC down to -50°C.

Essential data:

Despite the technological advances of the 20th century, we still only have estimates of the thickness of the sea ice cover on the Arctic Ocean. Travelling across the sea ice, the Catlin Arctic Survey team will take precise measurements of its thickness and density. This will enable the programme’s Science Partners to determine, with a greater degree of accuracy, how long the ice cap will remain. Currently, its predicted meltdown date is anywhere between four and a hundred years from now.

Global significance:

The melting of the sea ice will accelerate climate change, sea level rise and habitat loss on a global scale. Its loss is also a powerful indicator of the effects of human activity on our planet’s natural systems and processes. The Survey’s scientific findings will be taken to the national negotiating teams working to replace the Kyoto Protocol agreement at the UN Climate Change Conference of Parties in Copenhagen in December 2009.

Pioneering technology:

The Catlin Arctic Survey has developed and tested a portable, ice-penetrating radar. This will take continuous and detailed measurements of both the snow and ice layers along the 1200 km route.

Ground-breaking satellite communications equipment, developed specifically for this project, will allow the survey team to transmit their unfolding story directly from the ice to a global audience.

 

Extra Polar Medicine course due to demand

Arctic Expeditions

Due to the overwhelming success of our Polar Medicine Course in 2009 we have now added some new dates.  The dates for the NEW polar course are 22-28 February 2009, the course is being run by Dr Martin Rhodes and Dr Lesley Thomson.

The Polar Medicine Course is ideal for those working in polar and arctic environments.  The course has been featured in the BMJ several times and we are really proud of the success.

Tutors will develop the skills of participants through practical sessions and hands-on experience, rescuing and treating cold-water immersion, frostbite, altitude related illnesses and hypothermia, all managed whilst in the field.  Polar days and nights will be filled with developing winter survival skills from; emergency shelters, navigation, digging snow holes, snow mobiling, dog sledding, snow shoeing, plus much more.

For bookings email Luci

Polar Medicine looks northwards

Polar Medicine Training Course in action

Polar Medicine Training Course in action

Our annual, and highly acclaimed Polar Medicine Training Course is due to head to northern Norway in the middle of February – if demand is as high as it has been in previous years then we suggest that you book your place soon. 

Feedback from this years course included superlatives such as ‘best’ and ‘unmissable’

Find out more on the Polar Medicine web page or email Luci Ridout for an application form

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