BMC/BMMS Mountain Medicine weekend 2019 report

Posted by Suzanne Jones on 18/06/2019

This June saw 30 doctors, nurses and paramedics converge on Hathersage in the Peak District, to teach and share the latest knowledge about the practice of mountain medicine in the UK and abroad. BMC Honorary Medical advisor Dr David Hillebrandt reports:

With a high concentration of climbing doctors living and working in Hathersage it is not surprising that it is slowly becoming the Mountain Medicine capital of the UK. This is the fourth year that the BMC have combined with holders of the UK UIAA/ICAR/ISMM diploma of Mountain Medicine to offer two days of intensive workshops on all aspects of the subject in this welcoming town at the heart of the Peak district. Topics covered ranged from climber’s hand injuries on the gritstone to the management of altitude illness and frostbite at 8000m.

Doctors and paramedics from all over the country met up on the Friday for a course for professionals and then on Friday evening put the final touches to planning the layperson’s sessions in the pub. Last minute venue changes were made in view of the atrocious weather forecast but the BMC tent stood up to the elements and some sessions were run in the local scout hut and in the Methodist hall. The Outside shop hosted the registration area on the grass behind their shop and their café was used after the social beer and BBQ for a stunning presentation by Mick Fowler.

The course is open to people of all abilities and mountain interests but again several professional guides and instructors attended increasing the experience available to the groups. The British Mountain Guides, Association of Mountain Instructors, Mountain Training Association and British Association of International Mountain Leaders approved it for professional development. The emphasis is very much on sharing of knowledge and skills

60 delegates were educated and entertained in a variety of sessions with a combined ask the expert session in the hall resembling a gardener’s question time on radio four. Locals were amused to see groups dealing with an avalanche scenario in the long grass of a Derbyshire field or a mocked up car accident in the car park complete with gory makeup up to add realism. What has a car accident go to do with mountain medicine? Well how many miles do the mountaineering community drive every year to enjoy their sport? An essential skill which this year will hopefully not be used as people travel home.

BMC and BMMS t-shirts were in evidence on all sessions and it was good publicity for the newly formed British Mountain Medicine Society (BMMS). Membership is open to all with one membership level for the interested layperson and others for medical professionals. See the website for other events through the year but also put the date of 6 &7 June in your diary for 2020. We already have the halls booked in Hathersage and it will be part of an even longer Mountain Medicine Festival with sessions for lay climbers and professional medics with fee reductions for BMMS members.

Finally we must thank Suzanne in the BMC office for organising much of the logistics and all the bookings, Dr Raj Chatha for organising the course and volunteering to do this again in 2020, to the legendary Chris and Denzil team who keep most of the sessions running on time over a variety of locations heeding the masses, the medical teaching volunteers and, of course, the delegates who keep us on our toes with constant questioning.

The date has been set for next year's event (6 & 7 June 2020). To register your interest, please contact Suzanne Jones.

Profits and donations will be split between BMC Expedition funding and the BMMS.


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