Expedition & Wilderness Medicine

image_large_exp450x6719th to 22nd May 2014, Wales, UK

The aim of the Expedition & Wilderness Medicine Course is to provide aspiring and experienced expedition doctors, nurses, paramedics and advanced medics with the skills and practical knowledge to become valuable members of an expedition medical team.

82% rated the course as ‘excellent’, 16.3% as ‘very good’ and 1.7% as ‘good’.

Read the BMJ write up on the course here.

Expedition & Wilderness Medicine – Course Overview
The courses are run over a 4-day period and are either based

– in the stunning Barrow House Independant Youth Hostel,  Borrowdale, near Keswick,

– at  Britain’s premier training centre at Plas Y Brenin, The National Mountain Centre in Capel Curig, Snowdonia

– or the ideally located Heatree Centre on Dartmoor

There will be both a lecture and outdoors education programme (60/ 40) and the course members will be pushed both mentally and physically. The Expedition Medicine faculty aims to present the valuable skills in a logical and progressive fashion, culminating in a morning of moulage and subsequent feedback. To accompany the course a comprehensive manual is provided free of charge as is membership of the RemoteMed Association which gives you access to extensive ongoing support.

Expedition Medicine – Course Accreditation
In association with the Wilderness Medical Society we are able to offer the ability to earn 23.75 CME points and credits towards the Wilderness Medicine Fellowship Program to gain the FAWM.

This activity has been planned and implemented in accordance with the essential areas and policies of the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education through the joint sponsorship of the Wilderness Medical Society and Expedition Medicine. The Wilderness Medical Society is accredited by the ACCME to provide continuing medical education for physicians.

The Wilderness Medical Society designates this educational activity for a maximum of 23.75 hours of AMA PRA Category I Credits. Each physician should only claim credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.

The RCGP also estimate our Expedition Medicine Courses can generate between 10 and 20 CPD credits towards revalidation for GPs in the UK, depending on the personal challenge and impact of individual activities.

Expedition Medicine – Faculty
The Expedition Medicine Course team has been selected not only for their academic qualifications but also for their expedition experience, and for their ability to put across the passion and enthusiasm with which they regard the subject. They probably represent one of the most select teams of expedition experienced teachers in the UK and their expedition experience ranges from Antarctica to Namibia, from China to Chile.  They continue to be active in their varied fields of expedition and wilderness medicine and we are very lucky to be able to gather them all in one place at the same time.

Expedition & Wilderness Medicine are also fortunate to be able to call upon a number of guest lecturers from the expedition world who are leaders in their field. Previous speakers have included Sir Chris Bonnington, Sundeep Dhillon, Steve Venables, Simon Yates, Jamie Andrews, Mike Stroud, Jim Milledge, Steve Jones Luanne Freer and Andy Cave to name but a few.

UK Course – What to expect
This course is a good balance between lectures and practical activity. On the first 3 days we spend half the day inside participating in lectures and the other half of the day in smaller group teaching sessions and practical activities. Lectures include 1-hour slots on many areas of expedition medicine including Hot Weather medicine, Cold Weather Medicine. Altitude Medicine, Diving Medicine, Communication Systems and Pre-expedition Planning and Casualty Evacuation to name but a few.

After lunch on day 2 everyone spends 3 or 4 hours outside practising rope work, navigation and improvised carrying techniques. As is always the case in Cumbria the weather is very changeable and a full water proof shell and good outdoor clothing are essential.

There are frequent smaller group teaching sessions where participants are encouraged to ask questions and share best practice. These sessions can be outside and inside and we will not let the weather influence our choice of locations but we do run the outside sessions in basic shelters if the weather is inclement.

It is a very full timetable with little time for participants to explore the surrounding mountains and lakes. Having said this there are always a large number of people going out for morning runs, lake swims (only for the brave) and bike rides. There is always an evening lecture available which is purely at the participants discretion, however these sessions are extremely well attended and there is plenty of scope for a drink or two to accompany the evening’s entertainment.

The final morning is a large scale search and rescue exercise and you will be expected to participate in a sustained stretcher carry. This is physical work at times and you will not be asked to do anything you do not feel comfortable with – we always encourage people to work to their own limits rather than feel compelled or pressurised to complete any activity they are not comfortable with.

If the weather is kind to us and the low cloud stays away we arrange for the Great Northern Air Ambulance to drop in and lift one of our casualties off the mountain which is a good finale to the week.

A final note, the Barrowdale Hostel in Keswick is a basic, dormitory style venue which is very comfortable and extremely welcoming. All dietary requirements are well catered for and Kathy and Dave who run the place pride themselves in large quantities of wholesome food to suit all. The cakes at tea and coffee time are worth coming for alone!


Course content and timings subject to change.

Day One 
Overview of wilderness and expedition medicine
Pre-existing and common conditions on expedition
Group dynamics and understanding behaviour
Expeditions: a public health perspective
Four 55 min practical sessions run as stations with four teams rotating through:
• RTC scenario
• Fracture Management
• Wound Management
• Managing altitude illness and hypothermia
Expedition Security

Day Two
Tropical Medicine
Problems encountered in a hot environment
Pre-expedition planning and legal issues
Small groups out on the hill working on:
• Safety in the outdoors and steep ground
• Rope skills
• Improvised carrying techniques
• Navigation
• Group shelters
Rupert Bennett Lecture

Day Three
Diving Medicine
Three 55 min practical sessions run as stations with three teams rotating through:
• Pre-hospital wilderness resuscitation
• Dentistry
• The Art of Verbal Judo
Problems encountered in the cold environment
Three 30 min sessions run as stations with three teams rotating through:
• Aero-medical Evacuation
• Communications and Radios
• Medical Kit
Medicine in unconventional places

Day Four
Search and Rescue scenario
Course summing up and what the future can hold; open forum


Register here for the course!

Tip: More up to date educational events dealing with healthcare can be found online on the Education Database »medicine & health«.

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