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Wilderness Medical Training

Expedition Medicine & Field Skills in Chamonix (summer) 20-24 June 2016 30 CPD credits

What WMT says

Chamonix in summer provides the ideal backdrop to this intensive five day course which combines wilderness medicine with the varied skills needed to work, thrive and live in diverse environments including the mountains and jungle. With a core teaching team comprised of medics, expedition leaders and mountain guides, WMT packs a broad lecture programme, outdoor training sessions and an overnight high altitude mountain bivouac into a demanding and fun programme. Of all our courses, Chamonix events (winter and summer) have the widest attendance, attracting delegates from across Europe and beyond, including medical students, nurses, doctors, consultants, physiotherapists and paramedics. This popular annual programme is rich in learning, inspiration, practical medical advice and outdoor skill training. Organisations that might “employ” expedition medics increasingly expect candidates to have done a course of this high standard which is held only once a year in Chamonix in June.

What students say

A fun-filled, inspiring big kids holiday with enough medical theory to stimulate our brains.
It was a perfect mix of theory and practise, with a very healthy daily dose of vitamin D in the outdoors.
It was refreshing to be amongst so many people like-minded professionals who wanted more from their careers than the 4 walls of a hospital.
The course covered so much, at a good pace.
I think the course tested the comfort zone of quite a few people which is good. However, no one was made to feel awkward, inadequate or left out which is testament to the excellent abilities of the faculty as tutors and leaders.

Who’s invited?

Doctors of all grades, nurses, medical students or anyone else with an interest in expedition and wilderness medicine are welcome to attend. No prior expedition experience is required. On one end of the spectrum we get quite experienced expedition medics attending to ensure their knowledge is up to date and to get formal training under their belt, and at the other extreme, people attend who are simply fascinated and curious about this field of medicine and are exploring alternative career paths. The outdoor skills are taught at a practical “foundation” level but we wouldn’t considered this “basic”. All the training and teaching is pragmatic and aims to equip the medic with useful outdoor skills to be able to look after themselves and medical skills to look after patients.

The 2015 Course Director & Teaching Team

We had 9 instructors deliver the 2015 course led by WMT’s Medical Director Dr Harvey Pynn. Read more about Harvey and his recent feature article TOP TEN SKILLS TO MASTER FOR THE EXPEDITION MEDIC online at The Adventure Medic. Other contributors included Barry Roberts, Tim Burton, Lisa Fenton (Woodsmoke), Dr Nicola Macleod, Mark Mielopolski, Chamonix medic Dr Carron Scrimgeour, IFMG guide Luc Bellon and Nigel Williams. The 2016 team is to be confirmed.

Outline content – what’s covered on the course in Chamonix

Outdoor “bench marking” accident scenario
The legal considerations of being an expedition medic
Incidence of illness & injury on expeditions
Preparing the team; including antimalarials, immunisations
Heat illnesses & dehydration – wet bulb globe thermometers, military guidelines & electrolyte drinks
Lurkin’ firkins – snakes, scorpions & other biting beasties
Working in the jungle – a personal & practical perspective
Pre-existing medical problems
GI disease (diarrhoea)
Compiling a suitable medical kit – small group work
Insight lecture

Hypothermia & frostbite – practical guidelines for field use
Acute mountain sickness – AMS

Outdoors – Jungle living & the river environment
Navigation 101 – with map & compass
Safe river crossings
Vehicle safety & extrication
Jungle camp craft, health & hygiene, water purification

Wednesday – mountain bivouac phase
Expedition opportunities & vetting expedition companies
Discussion – how to further a career in expedition medicine
Menu planning, shopping for provisions & preparing for the night out
Stoves & cooking in the field
Snow camping & making snow caves
Packing light – kit selection, packing & waterproofing
Use of radios – ETHANE report – radio do’s and don’ts

Thursday: mountain activities
Snow travel & ice axe use
Advanced navigation + GPS
Ropes/anchors & rescue techniques,
Moving/straightening the injured, improvised splints/stretchers/collars
Concludes with multiple casualty scenario practical exercise
Final lectures & insight talk

Friday: mountain hike
In small teams, we offer a range of supervised mountain walks (or if leaving early we also offer a glacier trek – see below)
Final party!

Friday & Saturday: optional glacier trekking & ice climbing
Why not stay another day and join our fully qualified mountain guide team on a high mountain glacier trekking and climbing experience (at additional cost).

Insight Lectures

These very personal talks are a real highlight for many delegates so it’s worth saying more about them. Firstly, they are always accompanied by first-class images and often other media. Secondly, it is the highly personal, often intimate, nature of these presentations that delegates love. Often heart warming, inspirational, humbling, humble, honest, revealing, frank, frightening and occasionally cringeworthy, it’s no surprise these talks are so highly rated. Insight lectures are an inside view of someone’s career path that has blended adventure into it.


We estimate that this programme is valid for approximately 30 CPD credits.

Download more information

WMT_Pre-course_Welcome_Note_Chamonix_Summer_2015_V1 for more detailed travel and accommodation advice and more about this great Chamonix course! The revised 2016 Welcome Note is coming soon.

RGS Expedition Health Research

A Royal Geographical Society study of 1263 medical complaints on expedition found that more than half (51%) were classified either as gastrointestinal upsets (30%) or medical problems (21% – infections, headache, malaria etc.). 8% of complaints were fauna related. Not surprisingly, 4% of problems were feet related. Orthopaedic problems accounted for 19% of complaints, closely followed by environmental problems at 14%. Even minor illnesses left untreated, such as diarrhoea, blisters or sunburn, can slow a whole team down, reduce productivity and enjoyment and threaten the success of an expedition. More serious illness or injury can derail the expedition’s plans and result in evacuation that can be difficult and protracted. There is much for the expedition medic to consider and prepare for.