Expedition medical training for laypeople & doctors Skip to content

Wilderness Medical Training

Mountain Medicine 12 CPD credits

What WMT says

The mountains are an alluring environment and climbing them is a British invention (and obsession!). Living and working in the mountains is demanding and occasionally dangerous. There are special medical problems associated with hypoxia at higher altitudes and freezing temperatures, and there is potential for trauma due to avalanches, falls, crevasses on glaciers and other terrain hazards. The mountain medic needs to be able to navigate and be sure footed and confident in the mountains and on steep terrain. You also need to be physically fit and able to practice medicine on the mountainside, where simply assessing a casualty is a challenge in wet, windy weather, not to mention that evacuation is likely to be difficult or at least awkward. This practical, hands on course is lead by mountain medic experts and assumes no prior mountain experience. We take students through the most important medical skills and knowledge required for this special environment in addition to learning and practicing fundamental mountain craft skills that are a pre-requisite to safe, secure movement in the hills. Mountain Medicine is a fun, 2-day course normally held over a weekend in North Wales between June and September that’s more outdoors than indoors. The Sept. 2013 SOLD OUT. 2014 dates coming soon.

What students say

Enjoyed it all.
Truly excellent… friendly and knowledgeable (instructors)
Relevant, concise, good use of practical demos…
Content was well balanced between mountain stuff and medicine.
Comprehensive…lots of new material for myself.
I learned a lot about just the basics of navigation – gave me a super idea of what I am interested in and need to do more to learn about.
Good to learn by doing.
The sessions weren’t just a list of do’s and don’ts as I was expecting – they were punctuated with anecdotes and real life experiences which left me with no doubt that I was being taught by experts who had mastered their skills through years of practice in the field.
The lectures … were highly relevant and interesting. Nice to keep it short and snappy but with clear advice and messages.
Lots of topics covered in a short space of time; great intro to mountain medicine.
Inspiring. Nice to have teaching on the hills.

Who’s invited?

Doctors of all grades, nurses, medical students or anyone else with an interest in mountain medicine are welcome to attend. No prior climbing or expedition experience is required but you must be reasonably fit. Whether you are flirting with the idea of accompanying a team up Kilimanjaro, bolstering your CV or simply want a fun, inspiring educational weekend in the Welsh mountains, Mountain Medicine will satisfy your aims. 20 out of 20 course delegates in 2013 would recommend this course to others.

What’s covered on Mountain Medicine?

This is a busy two days with loads of practical sessions, group work, lectures and discussions. In 2012 and 2013 we used the very comfy Ben’s Bunkhouse as a base (with showers) for lectures, sleeping and eating where we also have easy access to the majestic hills of Snowdonia, North Wales. There’s lots to learn about mountain craft and this course will give you an excellent grounding. Many students arrive early or stay on to explore under their own steam. The 2014 venue and location is to be confirmed.

Intensive training on the hill includes:
Security on steep ground
Party leadership
Water purification & human waste disposal
Radio communications
Introduction to using GPS
Safe river crossing
Compiling a mountain medical kit
Mountain safety equipment – group shelters, walking rope, blizzard bags
Macro/micro navigation
Moving, straightening, lifting of injured casualties & improvised splints
Rope stretchers – practical exercise
Mountain weather & working around helicopters

The lecture & discussion group sessions include:
What is expedition medicine?
Choosing & packing personal equipment
Mountain navigation theory – maps, grid references, bearings, navigation strategies
Avalanche safety
Thermal injury – hypothermia, frostbite, cold water immersion
Acute mountain sickness – prevention and treatment
Use of portable altitude chambers
Joining an expedition
Saturday inspirational evening lecture

CPD

We estimate that this programme is valid for approximately 12 CPD credits.

Faculty

In September 2013 WMT Director Barry Roberts and Dr Paddy Morgan taught the course. Combined they have dozens of mountain expeditions to their credit, including trips to the summit of Everest, Greenland, Pakistan, Kenya, Morocco and other mountainous destinations. Both are keen ski mountaineers as well and contributing authors to the OUP expedition handbook. Barry wrote the Avalanche chapter.

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.

Download more information

Download more information about the style of the course, venue, a kit list, logistics and much more.

Mountain Images