Expedition and Wilderness Medicine provides medical support for BBC Blue Peter Presenter Helen Skelton as she attempts to be the first woman to kayak solo the Amazon.

Expedition and Wilderness Medicine provides remote media medical support for BBC Blue Peter Presenter Helen Skelton as she attempts to be the first woman to kayak solo the Amazon. Source: Telegraph Newspaper

A terrible thought crosses Helen Skelton’s mind. “I am going to need seven bottles of shampoo,” she says, aghast.

It is indeed scary news for the 26-year-old Blue Peter presenter, but not perhaps the worry that would be uppermost in the minds of most people setting off on a world record-breaking ordeal.

Her task over the next six weeks is to kayak solo for 2,010 miles down the Amazon. No woman has ever done that before, let alone one with no paddling experience.

Continue reading

Dr Andy McClea and his YouTube view of the Expedition and Wilderness Medicine Course in Keswick

Expedition and Wilderness Medicine Course in Keswick

Wilderness Medicine courses

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.

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.
Continue reading

The Life-Line Clinic, Namibia | Job Oppurtunity

Namib Naukluft National Park, NamibiaNamibia Medical volunteer
This challenging programme offers you a unique opportunity to work at a small, rural Bushman clinic in Africa and make a difference to the lives of those in most need.
N/a’an ku sê is a unique and special place in the heart of Namibia which is committed to conserving wildlife and improving the lives of the Bushman community. Live your African dream and help make a difference by volunteering at our Lifeline Clinic.

About N/a’an ku sê’s Lifeline Clinic
• Bushman are treated as third class citizens and live in extreme poverty
• Adult onset diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer are sharply increasing in Bushmen and alcoholism has become prevalent
• Many Bushman children suffer from malnutrition, disease, discrimination and abuse

The N/a’an ku sê Lifeline Clinic was set up in 2003 to address the needs of the rural indigenous communities in Epukiro, a remote part of Namibia. The demand for a basic but comprehensive health service became apparent to medical professionals working in the area when they witnessed the tragic and unnecessary death of a young child due to the failure of ambulance service and hospital staff, largely due to the fact that the child was a Bushman.   This vital service relies upon the time and dedication of volunteers and donations from supporters to continue to run and serve the communities in need.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.

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.

Continue reading

Mike Grocott Expedition and Wilderness Medicine lecturer speaks to the BBC about the Caudwell Extreme Everest Expedition

Everest trip helps critically ill

Copyright  Michelle Roberts
BBC News health reporter

Dr Grocott
Dr Grocott and the Caudwell team plan another trek in 2009

The lessons learned by medics from a trip to Everest could help the treatment of critically ill patients.

The team that braved the Himalayan summit to study the body’s responses to extreme adversity has recorded the lowest ever human blood oxygen level.

The results could see treatment plans for some patients with similarly low blood oxygen levels re-evaluated.

The “Caudwell Xtreme Everest” work has been published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

The blood readings established what has long been suspected – that high-altitude climbers have incredibly low levels of oxygen in their blood, which at sea-level would only be seen in patients close to death.

The figures they have got are quite incredible. They are phenomenally low oxygen levels
Anaesthetist Dr Andy Tomlinson

The average arterial oxygen level was 3.28 kilopascals or kPa – the lowest was 2.55 kPa.

The normal value in humans is 12-14 kPa and patients with a level below 8 kPa are considered critically ill.

Expedition leader Dr Mike Grocott said: “We rarely see below 6 kPa in our patients.

“Yet our readings were well below this and we were walking and talking and functioning normally.

“This gives us some perspective about what levels of oxygen deprivation people can tolerate.”

He said some critically ill patients may have adapted to the low oxygen levels and may not need the aggressive interventions, such as ventilation, that are currently given to get blood oxygen levels closer to normal ranges.

“All these interventions carry a risk of harm and you have to weigh up the benefits versus potential damage to organs like the lungs.

“Maybe we could be less aggressive in treating some of these patients.”

He said other intensive care researchers were planning to investigate it.

Tolerance limits

Acting as guinea pigs themselves, the London team of medics – five anaesthetists, two GPs and a vascular surgeon – took the first readings of human blood oxygen 8,400m above sea level.

The team climbed with oxygen tanks, then removed their masks 20 minutes prior to testing to give time for their lungs to get used to the low-oxygen atmosphere and to avoid any skewing of the readings.

The team were unable to make the measurement on the summit of Everest as conditions were too severe, with temperatures at -25C and winds above 20 knots.

Having descended a short distance from the summit, the doctors removed their gloves, unzipped their down suits and drew blood from the femoral artery in the groin.

The samples were then carried by Sherpas back down the mountain and analysed within two hours at a science lab set up at the team’s camp at 6,400m.

Based on calculations of the expected level of oxygen in the blood, the Caudwell Xtreme team speculate that accumulation of fluid in the lungs as a result of the high altitude might have contributed to the low oxygen levels.

They hope ongoing research will eventually lead to better treatments for patients with acute respiratory distress syndrome, cystic fibrosis, emphysema, septic shock, “blue baby” syndrome and other critical illnesses.

Dr Andy Tomlinson, an anaesthetist at the City General Hospital in Stoke-on-Trent and a keen climber, said: “The figures they have got are quite incredible. They are phenomenally low oxygen levels.

“There is obviously a difference between critically ill patients and fit and healthy climbers.

“Never the less, there are lessons to be learned for critical care.”

Dr Peter Nightingale of the Royal College of Anaesthetists said: “This may well make doctors re-evaluate their current provision of oxygen and the researchers may well be right that patients can run on lower oxygen levels.

“But we do not know and we need more research.”

Mike Grocott is a Expedition and Wilderness Medicine lecturer and presents on our UK training course – Expedition and Wilderness Medicine UK

Jungle Medicine course – Costa Rica

Course director Dr Sean Hudson writing about the Jungle Medicine Training Course in Costa Rica

Back in Costa Rica again and the jungle didn’t fail to provide the perfect environment for the Jungle Medicine training course. As one would expect, it was hot, wet and full of interesting fauna and flora. I never fail to be impressed by the beauty of the jungle, but by god it can be hard sometimes. Its one of the few places I visit that can be so harsh then so comfortable. The moment you start to feel comfortable in the jungle is that Nirvana moment.

It took a while coming this trip because of the heavy rain but we eventually made it. Mike, Ceri, Mark and Martin again excelled themselves and the addition of our new herpetologist bringing snakes into camp was great. The best new addition to the course this year was however the HENNESSEY HAMMOCK, it is without a doubt the best bit of expedition equipment I have come across. 18 people in the jungle in some of wettest conditions I have experienced and everyone was dry, or if they weren’t they didn’t let on. Quite incredible.

Other than the medic feeling a little queasy on the river, everyone escaped injury and illness. Other than the EL developing drucunculiasis that is! but he’s got to have something to winge about. Back next year and I’m looking forward to it already.

Find out more about Expedition and Wilderness Medicine and about the Jungle Medicine Training Course in particular