NASA Gives Thumbs Up to World Extreme Medical Conference

Kate Rubins, one of three astronauts aboard the International Space Station, has transmitted a message of support to the organisers of the World Extreme Medicine Conference and Expo, which will be held at Dynamic Earth in Edinburgh on Friday 18 to Monday 21 November.

Taking time off from sequencing DNA 400km above the Earth’s surface, Kate Rubins reinforced the importance of extreme medicine:

“Here in Earth orbit we have a unique appreciation of the concepts of ‘extreme’ and ‘remote’, very applicable to the World Extreme Medicine Conference, especially provisioning and point-of-care diagnostics in similar remote environments as well as on a wider global scale.

“The concept of extreme medicine resonates with so many corners of human health, such as disaster and humanitarian medicine, prehospital care, wilderness medicine, and in isolated villages in the developing world.

“The breaking down of traditional silos between these disciplines is leading to more effective treatments and devices, and of course the sharing of knowledge and best practices on a wider stage.”

The video was put on the World Extreme Medicine Facebook page last Friday and already has over 9,100 views.

The attendees at the World Extreme Medicine Conference represent an eclectic mix of disciplines, united by one thing: they all specialise in medical practice conducted away from a usual clinical setting, typically in remote and sometimes dangerous locations.

Four core disciplines are covered by 100 key speakers: disaster and humanitarian medicine, extreme, expedition and space medicine, human endurance and sports medicine plus prehospital medicine. Highlights include:

Disaster and Humanitarian Medicine

Dr David Nott, an NHS surgeon who spends several months of each year working overseas for Médecins Sans Frontières and the International Federation of the Red Cross, will be speaking about his most recent work at a makeshift hospital in Aleppo, Syria, and previously, in other conflict zones.

Peter Skelton, a London-based physiotherapy and rehabilitation specialist who has worked in emergency teams in Ecuador, Nepal, Gaza, Iraq, the Philippines, Libya, Jordan and Haiti, will be speaking about the importance of Psychological First Aid training to responders in disaster situations.

Extreme, Expedition and Space Medicine

Speakers come from as far afield as Australia, such as John Cherry, a rural doctor working in Orange, New South Wales, around 150 miles west of Sydney. Dr Cherry has had an incredibly varied career and will be speaking about how he created the blueprint for preparing ESA astronauts for medical situations in space.

American MD Will Smith is travelling from Jackson, Wyoming, where he is the US National Parks Medical Director. He provides consultancy services to extreme medicine and rescue organisations across the world and will be sharing his experiences of practicing medicine in remote and austere locations.

Human Endurance and Sports Medicine

Speakers include the elite sports expert, Edinburgh-based Dr Andrew Murray, who has worked for the Olympic, Paralympic and Commonwealth games. He is also an incredible athlete in his own right, having run 4,300 km from Scotland to the Sahara Desert and completed a husky trek in -40C in Outer Mongolia.

Pre-Hospital Medicine

Londoner Eoin Walker is a Pre-Hospital Mass Casualty Incident Management Paramedic with the London Air Ambulance, and will be discussing prehospital care alongside Zoe Hitchcock. In 2013, Zoe suffered a cardiac arrest whilst shopping in Oxford Street, central London, and Eoin was the first on the scene and re-started her heart.

World Extreme Medicine Founder Mark Hannaford said, “In today’s world, more than ever before, the human race is determined to access remote areas, whether it be for science, exploration, business or a myriad of other reasons. People going into these areas need medical support, and the skillsets of the medical professionals required are very different to those needed in a traditional clinical environment.

“Likewise, there are conflicts and disasters happening in parts of the world where access to equipment and medicine is extremely difficult or impossible. Medical professionals in these conditions need to be able to work with very limited resources and frequently overcome new challenges.

“The area of extreme medicine is in growth, and our message is that it’s a great alternative to a traditional clinical career. My belief is that there’s never been a more exciting time to work in medicine, and the fascinating speakers at the World Extreme Medicine Conference will prove that point.”

Mark Hannaford concludes, “We are thrilled to be bringing 100 speakers to Edinburgh at a unique event attended by 800 doctors, nurses, paramedics, surgeons and medical students. New medical research findings will be shared, making the conference an unmissable and historic event.”

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