Wilderness Medical Training

We are sitting in some very comfortable theatre seats at the RGS.  On the screen in front of us is a man who packed badly for a mountain climb.  His thumb is black and shrivelled, his forefinger red and puffy, and the other digits are all missing.  ‘Now this isn’t as bad as it looks, but can anyone tell me what the problem is?’ says the smirking lecturer.  We check the route to the toilets is clear and stifle a retch.  Day 1 of Wilderness Medical Training.

The RGS have paid for a two day medical taster course, preparing us for everything from Lynn choking on her breakfast and Tim developing a bee allergy, to us all being involved in a serious car accident.  It is a sobering, enlightening and terrifying experience.

The doctors who run the course combine a passion for adventure with that unique medical fascination for photos of people in incredible pain.  Snake bites, car crashes, burns, worms, compound fractures, even an ingrown toe-nail. It engrossed and repelled.  What did we learn?

1. More often than not your ectopic pregnancy  is just an upset stomach; the definite case of dengue fever is only flu; and your constant panic about syphilis is not helping your heatrash.

2. Home made tracheotomies, car battery defibrillators and emergency resuscitations often do more harm than good. BIC biros are not the lifesaver you thought

3. Tim almost burst Lynn’s ear drum doing an inner ear inspection.  Lynn silenced the mild trauma workshop by shouting‘don’t panic, don’t panic’ to a terrified casualty, whilst Will had to sit out the Altitude Sickness lecture after paying too much attention in the Breaks and Fractures photo-talk.

On the positive side, we discovered that we all have normal blood pressure, are free of bronchitis, and are unlikely to have to diagnose altitude sickness (which I confused with a hybrid of malaria and e-coli).  The course leader said our vehicle allows us to take more medical supplies and have speedy access to a hospital.  ‘You will be fine’  he said ‘as long as you don’t crash’.  With that he left, leaving us pondering whether to sign up to his second course “Car crashes:  How to retrieve and stabilize casualties after high impact collisions”.  At least we won’t have to sit through frostbite photos there.

Our thanks to everybody at Wilderness Medical Training for a truly eye-opening weekend.

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