NASA astronaut Kate Rubins currently aboard the International Space Station on the similarities of working in space & remote locations on earth.


Expecting the unexpected

Expecting the unexpected, writes WEM Medical Director Dr Alex RoweExtreme Medicine

In life one thing is certain you will encounter situations that you could not anticipate no matter how much you plan.  In expedition medicine one of the challenges is dealing with these when away from the security of a well staffed and secure environment, in fact you could say that meeting these challenges is part of what makes it so interesting.

Imagine you are travelling with an expedition group as their doctor. You are travelling to Nepal to undertake a Himalayan high altitude trek everything is planned meticulously. You’ve undertaken medical kit sourcing, researched the local area and formulated evacuation plans, revised management of high altitude conditions, spoken to local guides and are happy that you have all the emergency communications systems you need.

You are driving along the mountain pass and there is a sudden, loud bang and the coach in front of yours swerves, breaking through a rickety crash barrier, careering down the bank into a small river where the coach rolls onto its side. The inside of the coach is chaos with debris everywhere and you can hear the screams as you survey the scene. You also know the nearest hospital is three hours’ drive away.

Your mind switches into processing mode to analyse this chaotic scene, formulate a plan, delegate then get on with the job- it’s what we’ve always done and somehow our minds find a powerful focus in the most dramatic situations. Key to this is organising the response to achieve the best outcome for the most people.  Decision making is at the core of how we practice medicine and we base these decisions on previous experience, prior learning, teams we have worked with, great leaders and a certain X factor originating from common sense and lateral thinking.

Another aspect of medical training is the emphasis on the role of the team and in general most doctors are capable of functioning as valuable team members because we are taught the importance of listening, empathy and compassion when we are looking after our patients and how to treat them as human beings, rather than just numbers with problems and solutions. As our medical personalities evolve, our human personalities are also shaped.

I started my medical career in anaesthetics and emergency medicine before going into general practice and the longer I practice medicine, the more I understand the importance of communication and consultation skills. I also work as a pre hospital care doctor where empathy, compassion and communication has never been more important as we manage major trauma. We are taught that we can even ease pain purely with compassion, kindness and talking to our patient. Drugs help of course!

So how does this fit into Expedition and Extreme Medicine? Groups of people are fascinating to watch and interact with. Put those people into more challenging environments and out of their comfort zones, and suddenly true colours are revealed as the sub conscious primitive brain takes over and starts to govern what is shown to the outside world. As an expedition medic, we are in the same challenging environment, yet how do we control ourselves when we are undertaking the same challenges as the people involved, then switching into doctor mode when we are as tired, hungry and possibly as scared as the rest of the group.  Conventional medical training can give us the foundation to operate in this challenging environment.

I have been working with a great team developing the Human Factors Module for the Extreme Medicine Post Graduate Programme. Human factors are what allow us to perform and do our job when others are struggling. Self-awareness, situational awareness and group awareness allow us to process the global picture when groups are under pressure, and should enable us to stand back from the scene and make functional and rational decisions. We are not alone though and it is a skill to recognise and utilise the group members who can work with us. Task and environment specific skills such as management of altitude illness will always be vital, however it’s the softer skills that help us stand out, perform as accepted leaders and take control when stuff starts hitting the fan.

Open doors to extend your professional interests and career.  Visit  for a portfolio of training opportunities, like no other.

Extreme Medicine












Extreme Conferencing in Edinburgh

Our friends at Adventure Medic managed to track down Extreme Medicines founder Mark Hannaford and talked to him about this years Extreme Medicine Conference…

…..It’s a bumper year for conferences in Adventure Medic’s spiritual home of Edinburgh. World Extreme Medicine and Student Wilderness Medicine UK are both round the corner and we can’t wait to catch up with you all there. In preparation, we caught up with WEM’s Mark Hannaford to hear what’s in store.

Hi Mark, what have you got planned for us?

The original concept of the conference came from a realisation that within pre-hospital care, expedition, disaster, humanitarian and extreme medicine, similar groups of highly motivated and exceptionally skilled medics existed, and that the types of medicine practiced and actually the ‘types’ of medics involved were also very similar.

We want to build a platform where we can share best practice, research and experience and also create a network to enable people to move across disciplines more easily. As the conference has developed we’ve introduced more sub disciplines most notably, last year endurance sports medicine, aided by Dr Helen Grimsmo, herself a remarkable athlete. With the Olympics now behind us we are looking forward to hearing about some of the medicine behind this years’ GB team’s remarkable successes.

Whilst the daily headings have broadly stayed the same, the content is very different with a number of ‘Core Concepts’ now finding a home as optional workshops. New for this year, is a focus on vulnerable populations and a tie in with the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) to deliver an abridged version of their Excellence Series.

Having experimented with a range of workshops at last years’ event, where we were overwhelmed with their popularity, we have built a similarly diverse range of optional sessions into this year gathering ranging from Expedition Dentistry presented by the amazing Dr Burjor Langdana, ultrasound workshops presented by our colleagues at GE to ‘Anaesthesia equipment for the travelling anaesthetist’ and ‘The surgical airway, where, when and how.’

We really enjoyed some of the animal biology stuff last time…

Great! We’ve continued our relationship with the Society of Experimental Biology to provide two sessions where we look at how the animal kingdom performs and adapts to extremes, and how we might relate that back to human medicine.

Why did you make the move to Edinburgh?

For the past five years, aside from one visit to Harvard Medical School, we have based the conference in London primarily at the Royal Society of Medicine, so this year’s move to Scotland was made with a little trepidation. However, we’re delighted at how it’s all turned out.  The warm welcome from all the Scots folk we’re engaged with and the ease of navigating Edinburgh is a real treat and we even managed to catch a glimpse of medics ‘Parkouring’ to the venue.

What are you looking forward to most about the conference?

With the world and indeed the NHS changing in ways we hadn’t considered five years ago, when we first started the conference series, it now provides an amazing, inspiring place to hear first-hand from doctors and medics who use their medical degrees in the most remarkable ways, who have stepped away from traditional training pathways and who are only too happy to share their experiences

Personally it’s the energy and vibrancy of getting so many inspiring people together in one place for four days it’s a chance to catch up with old friends meet new and create new ideas and hear incredible stories.

World Extreme Medicine Conference




No matter where people go for adventure, medicine must follow. Those are the words of Mark Hannaford, a pioneer in the field of extreme medicine.Mark Hannaford

World Extreme Medicine, which was co-founded by Hannaford over 15 years ago, trains doctors and other medical professionals to work in some of the most inhospitable locations in the world. Providing support to those who respond to disasters, humanitarian crises, conflict zones and other low resource environments.

Hannaford, who was a member of 21 SAS (Reserves) Regiment and has over 27 years of experience in expeditions & remote travelling under his belt, reiterates the need for medics to have the necessary skills to work in some of the most remote areas of the world.

Speaking to Nevisport, he said: “A lot of skills are needed to work remotely and this differs to hospital medicine, with less access to specialist skills, equipment, and medicines. We concentrate on best practice in the absence of these resources.

“Our environmental courses such as our Polar Medicine courses in New Zealand and Norway, Mountain Medicine in Nepal and Jungle Medicine in Costa Rica teach very specialist skills that are really only learnt in those specific extremes.”


One aspect of extreme medicine, which is sometimes forgotten about, is the ‘pressure’ on medics who have to make life or death calls with little or no support. Hannaford added: “The pressure of medics working remotely, is often neglected, the psychological pressure of having to make decisions without support. Dealing with co-workers who might be working under immense pressure or physically exhausted and our courses provide insight into this and offer some tools to use to assist in managing both oneself and a team.”

Extreme Medicine WEM was part of the working group that drew up the Guidance for Medical Provision for Wilderness Medicine for the Royal College of Surgeons in Edinburgh. The ability to pack more equipment into smaller pieces of kit thanks to the advancement of technology, is leading to a revolution in the area of extreme medicine and WEM is at the forefront. This allows the likes of Hannaford and other adventurers to undertake expeditions with a basic first aid kit, knowing that they have a support team which will be able to provide a level of medical care which their predecessors could only dream about.

But for Hannaford, there is some kit that he cannot do without no matter his destination, he continued: “My basic kit is just that basic, but I always travel with a down jacket with a hood. It is lightweight and indispensable when it’s chilly in the evening and even when it’s warm doubles up as a great pillow. A Petzl headtorch, my iPhone for photos, a spoon, and a toothbrush. That’s about it but obviously, expands if the environment is more challenging!”

WEM is not only educating medics and those working in areas such as Everest Base Camp or Antarctica, they also highlight the similar challenges faced by medical professionals working in remote areas of Scotland as they face the same constraints in terms of the time it can take to get a casualty to the next level of medical care.

Despite his years of travelling, whether it is to Morocco, Antarctica or Namibia, Hannaford’s greatest joy has been introducing his children to expeditions.

“This is something I can be rather evangelical about,” he said. “There is a perception that children need to be protected, but my son was in a backpack and trekking across the Namib Desert not that he was aware of it, aged just five months. Children really blossom and grow by being introduced to the outdoors; watching their reaction to a new place is magical in its innocence and enthusiasm.”

So what does the future hold for WEM?

They have another year of film support in the South Pacific on the TV show ‘Survivor’ and in November they descend on Dynamic Earth in Edinburgh for this year’s World Extreme Medicine Expo. Guest speakers include such luminaries as Adrian Mellor (Surgeon Commander, Royal Navy), Barry Fudge (Head of Endurance with British Athletics) and South African Cathy O’Dowd (the first woman in the world to climb both the north and south sides of Mount Everest).

For more information on World Extreme Medicine and their courses go to:



Born in Glasgow, but lived for many years in South East Asia, Andy has a love of travelling and experiencing what the world has to offer. He prefers to immerse himself in the local culture rather than the mundane tourist areas. Andy works in our head office in Glasgow.

Never say no to adventure


Interested in Mountain Medicine? In 2017 our Nepal course moves to April 23 – May 10

Extreme Medicine


Interested in Mountain Medicine? In 2017 our Nepal course moves to April 23 – May 10. Check out the course page for more information.

New WEME Workshops

We’re delighted to be working with The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) to offer an abridged version of their Excellence Series in Obs & Gynae.

Building on last year’s successful ultrasound workshops we’ll deliver both introductory and advanced ultrasound scanning workshops with GE, so no matter how experienced you are, there’ll be something here for you.

Head over to the WEM Conference website for more information. 

Please note there will be a charge for some workshops, booking prior to arrival is essential.


We welcome Médecins Sans Frontières as this year’s charity partner at the WEM Conference.

MSF Board Member, Javid Abdelmoneim, draws from his experience over the past 12 months much of which has been spent aboard an MSF search and rescue vessel based off the coast of Libya.

Operations Manager, Natalie Roberts, discusses how to arrive on scene and hit the ground running. No matter what the epidemic, disaster or conflict, an effective response from day 1 is critical.


If you’re looking to boost your CPD for the year, the World Extreme Medicine Conference is a great place to do it.

The Royal College of Surgeons Edinburgh has awarded 6 CPD points per day, if you’re with us for the full event that’s 24 CPD plus a whole load of excitement and inspiration to take away with you.

Join us in Corfe

Later this year we’ll be packing our bags and heading to Dorset to inspire and educate a new wave of medics ready to take their skills out into extreme or poorly resourced environments across the globe.

With a huge range of skills and experience, our team put extreme medicine into context, showing you how to use your new skills, where they can take you and how you can enhance your skills through adventure and in challenging environments.

The course run Oct 31 – Nov 3, 2016 and we hope to see you there.

Need kit? Remember our discount with Cotswold Outdoor, simply use discount code AF-WEM-C2 to claim 15% off (T&Cs apply)

Yorkshire has a new mountain

We’re super pleased to hear the UK has a new mountain! Calf Top as it’s known has been newly surveyed and has come in at 609.606m just 6mm over the threshold height.

It may not be the biggest mountain, but it’s a mountain and therefore it’s worth climbing.

Richard Earlam

We’re very sad to hear of the passing of Richard Earlam who was a consultant general surgeon at the Royal London Hospital and the man who pioneered London’s Air Ambulance Service.

Richard Earlam was a very special clinician with an inquisitive mind which led him to produce a significant body of research.

Take a look at what this remarkable man achieved HERE.


Reviving Accidental Hypothermic Victims with Extracorporeal Life Support

Extreme Medicine - Beat WalpothDr Beat Walpoth is speaking at the World Extreme Medicine Conference

Dr Beat Walpoth, Director of Cardiovascular Research at the University Hospital of Geneva (, Switzerland, is a leading surgeon and expert on rewarming victims of hypothermia using extracorporeal life support (ECLS).

The technique has been adapted from cardiac surgery as early as the 60’s and 70’s when patients were cooled down to core temperatures around 20°C in order to perform complex cardiac surgical repairs in a state of deep hypothermic cardiac arrest with good survival after rewarming to normothermia.

Dr Beat Walpoth said, “Such operations would be impossible in normothermia because the brain has a tolerance to anoxia – not being perfused by blood – of about three minutes. However, when you cool the body to 20˚C, the brain’s tolerance is extended to around 30 minutes.”

“After the first successful rewarming of a patient in cardiac arrest with accidental hypothermia by Professor Ulrich Althaus (, I joined the team at the University Hospital of Bern, Switzerland ( and we developed the method much further.  This pioneering research has shown that it is possible to revive a victim in deep hypothermia with cardiac arrest by rewarming the body with ECLS (cardio-pulmonary bypass, or ECMO) and to give him a chance for a sequela-free long-term survival (published by our group in the New England Journal of Medicine in 1997).  Prior to this event such patients would have been declared dead.”

But could this technique be advanced to the point at which humans could lie dormant for years at a time? Suspended animation is the concept that lowering a person’s core temperature dramatically can enter them into a dormant state, waiting to be reanimated years later.

It is a theme that is often revisited in science fiction and is regularly proposed as a way of dealing with the long timescales of interstellar travel, but how realistic is the possibility of cryonic suspension?

Dr Walpoth continues, “It has always been the dream of many scientists and writers.”

“At the moment I’m not convinced that it will be possible for the whole body to be ‘frozen’ (cryo-preserved). As you may know, it is possible for cells; you can freeze certain types of cells for 20 years or even longer and they will still carry all of their capacity when thawed.”

“There is work in progress to try to apply this technology not only to isolated cells but to whole organs. So far, some organs have the potential to be cryo-preserved at -196°C and thawed; you can, for instance, do that with simple organs such as heart valves, which function quite well after thawing.”

“But from there, to go to ‘freezing’ a whole body is an enormous step. I don’t want to be overly optimistic or pessimistic but time will tell – my expectation is that these technologies will not be available in the near future.”

The pioneering cardiovascular surgeon is the founder of the International Hypothermia Registry (, which gathers patient data and collates peer-reviewed analysis to improve the treatment of accidental hypothermia victims.

Dr Walpoth will be speaking at the World Extreme Medicine Conference and Expo ( at Dynamic Earth, Edinburgh, EH8 8AS on 19 November 2016.  The Extreme Medicine Exposition brings together leading experts from around the globe to share learnings on prehospital care, expedition and wilderness medicine, sport, endurance, humanitarian and disaster medicine.

Mark Hannaford, founder of conference organisers World Extreme Medicine, said, “Dr Walpoth’s great experience is relevant and poignant for a lot of doctors working in expedition and wilderness medicine, as hypothermia is a great danger to all mountaineers and polar explorers.

“Improving the efficacy of the treatment of accidental hypothermia is hugely important to safety in these extreme environments, and Dr Walpoth is at the very forefront of that research.

“World Extreme Medicine was founded around a campfire in Namibia, and we coined the phrase ‘World Extreme Medicine’ as an umbrella term for all practices of medicine outside of a clinical environment, whether it is prehospital, disaster and humanitarian, endurance, sport, expedition or wilderness medicine.

“Our message is that there is a great diversity of careers in medicine, and that traditional hospital environments are not the only option for a fulfilling career. To put it into a layperson’s terms, there’s never been a more exciting time to work in medicine.”

For further information about the Extreme Medicine Expo, which takes place 18 – 21 November 2016, please visit: .



University Hospital of Geneva:

Professor Ulrich Althaus:

University Hospital of Bern:

International Hypothermia Registry:

World Extreme Medicine Conference and Expo:

World Extreme Medicine Conference Info:


High resolution imagery and interviews are available on request. Journalists are invited to attend the conference too and are asked to register their interest as early as possible.

Media information provided by Famous Publicity. For more information, please contact Tina Fotherby at 07703 409 622 or or Adam Betteridge at 0333 344 2341 or


About the World Extreme Medicine Expo:

The World Extreme Medicine Conference and Expo will take place at Dynamic Earth, Edinburgh, EH8 8AS from 18 – 21 November 2016. Bringing together many of the world’s brightest medical minds, it will focus on humanitarian and disaster medicine, expedition medicine, endurance and sports medicine and prehospital medicine.  The exposition’s mission is to break down barriers, build bridges and make connections within the extreme medicine community.

The term ‘Extreme Medicine’ was first coined by Mark Hannaford and Sean Hudson as an umbrella term for these extra-clinical medical practices.


About Dr Beat Walpoth:

A trained cardiovascular surgeon, Dr Beat Walpoth is currently the Director of Cardiovascular Research at the University Hospital of Geneva in Switzerland. He is ex-President of the European Society for Artificial Organs. His main areas of research include vascular tissue engineering, biomaterials, drug delivery, cell therapy, angiogenesis as well as bio-artificial cardiovascular support. His main clinical expertise covers coronary blood flow measurement, hemodynamics, cardiac transplantation and mainly hypothermia.

Dr Walpoth is a recipient of several national and international awards, the most prestigious being the Ernst-Derra-Prize (1993) for the paper “MR Spectroscopy for assessing myocardial rejection in the transplanted rat heart” and more recently his research group has received the ESAO Wichtig Award in the years 2008 and 2012 for their research on vascular tissue engineering. He has also received more than 10 peer-reviewed national and international grants.

He has over 100 publications, of which more than 50 are first-author papers, in peer reviewed journals with a total impact factor over 150. A keystone paper “Outcome of Survivors of Accidental Deep Hypothermia and Circulatory Arrest Treated with Extracorporeal Blood Warming” was published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 1997 and describes for the first time the sequelae free long-term outcome of 15 survivors of accidental deep hypothermic cardiac arrest rewarmed by cardiopulmonary bypass.  This research was carried out at the University Hospital, Bern, where Professor Ulrich Althaus pioneered the extracorporeal rewarming of a deep hypothermic victim in cardiac arrest.

He is also the founder of the International Symposium on Accidental Hypothermia which he organized, or co-organized in the years 2007, 2009, 2012 and 2014.   This year the meeting will be organized on November 11, in Interlaken, Switzerland, under his guidance.

Dr Walpoth was the founder of the International Hypothermia Registry which is now entering its fifth year and counts more than 50 international participating centres.  This registry is web-based ( and aims to gather enough patient data worldwide, followed by a peer-reviewed analysis, in order to establish new consensus guidelines for establishing better outcome predictors and improving the treatment of accidental hypothermia victims.


Cardio-pulmonary bypass: Cardiopulmonary bypass (CPB) is a technique that temporarily takes over the function of the heart and lungs during surgery, maintaining the circulation of blood and the oxygen content of the body. The CPB pump itself is often referred to as a heart–lung machine or “the pump”.

Cryo-preserved: Cryopreservation is a process where cells, whole tissues, or any other substances susceptible to damage caused by chemical reactivity or time are preserved by cooling to sub-zero temperatures.

ECLS: Extracorporeal life support (ECLS) is a variation of cardiopulmonary bypass. Whereas cardiopulmonary bypass facilitates open heart surgery for a number of hours, extracorporeal life support maintains tissue oxygenation for days to weeks in patients with life threatening respiratory or cardiac failure (or both).

ECMO: Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) works by removing blood from the person’s body and artificially removing the carbon dioxide and oxygenating red blood cells. Generally it is only used in the later treatment of a person with heart or lung failure as it is solely a life-sustaining intervention.

Normothermia: A normal state of temperature.

Sequela-Free: Living without a condition which is the consequence of a previous disease or injury.


Extreme Medicine in Scotland

Scotland – world-renowned for scientific medical excellence thanks to pioneers including microbiologist Alexander Fleming, the chemist Thomas Graham, best known for his leading work in dialysis and Joseph Lister, the “Father of Antiseptic Surgery” transformed surgical practice – will be home to a pioneering medical conference this November.

Taking place from Friday November 18 – 21, at Dynamic Earth, Holyrood Gait, Edinburgh, EH8 8AS the World Extreme Medicine Expo involves over 100 world-renowned medical experts – from surgeons and paramedics to astronauts – sharing their specialty, medical practice conducted away from the comfort of a typical hospital setting.

Four core disciplines are covered – disaster and humanitarian medicine, extreme, expedition and space medicine, human endurance and sports medicine plus prehospital medicine.

World Extreme Medicine Founder Mark Hannaford said, “Our mission is to break down barriers, build bridges and make connections within the extreme medicine community. We are honoured to host the most incredible line up of speakers who are willing to share their learnings, working at the very top of their profession.

“The event is also an amazing showcase for the wonderful diversity of careers in medicine and proof that a fulfilling career can be found outside of a traditional hospital environment. My belief is that there’s never been a more exciting time to work in medicine and the fascinating presentations will prove that point.”

Speakers include the elite sports expert, Edinburgh-based DrAndrew Murray who has worked for the Olympic, Paralympic and Commonwealth games. He ran 4,300 km from Scotland to the Sahara Desert and completed a husky trek in -40C in Outer Mongolia.

An exploration of the challenges faced when a solar storm hits your space shuttle will be examined by Dr Michael Barratt who spent 199 days as the Chief Medical Officer on the micheal barrettInternational Space Station. He is passionate about the adapted physiology of people in space.

Disaster Medicine is a more down to earth theme, which is largely covered on the first day of the conference. Mark Hannaford continues, “We have speakers from many aid agencies including Natalie Roberts from Médecins Sans Frontières and Arij Boureslan-Skelton from Save The Children. We’re pleased to have many speakers representing UK-Med, the UK’s disaster and emergency trauma response team, founded by Tony Redmond,who’s also speaking. Speakers, including Sean HudsonEoin WalkerChrissy and Roger Alcock have deployed with UK-Med in response to disasters including the earthquake in Nepal and Typhoon Haiyan**.** We have chosen Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) as our charity of the year and the leading vascular surgeon Dr David Nottwill speak about their work on the first day. Our speakers will share human stories behind the traumatic news headlines.”

The prehospital care programme involves an incredible case of a young woman who suffered a coronary heart attack while walking in London’s Oxford Street. Luckily for her, senior paramedic Eoin Walker from London’s Ambulance Cycle Response Team was close by and saved her life. There will not be a dry eye in the auditorium when Zoë Hitchcock tells her life-changing story.

Mark Hannaford concludes, “We are thrilled to be bringing 100 speakers to Edinburgh at an exciting event attended by 800 doctors, nurses, paramedics, surgeons and medical students. New medical research findings will be shared, so that the World Extreme Medicine event will be making history, following in the footsteps of the scientific giants who are now household names.”Extreme Medicine founder Mark Hannaford

About World Extreme Medicine Expo

Location: Dynamic Earth, Edinburgh, EH8 8AS

Dates: Friday November 18 to Monday November 21

Ticket information: Prices from £124.17 (for one day) to £825.00 (for all four days)


Videos: Being a Doctor Just Became the Most Exciting Career

Extreme and Wilderness Medicine – Our Story


High resolution imagery and interviews are available on request. Journalists are invited to attend the conference too and are asked to register their interest as early as possible.

Media information provided by Famous Publicity. For more information, please contact Tina Fotherby at 07703 409 622 or, Tabitha Monkhouse at 0333 344 2341 or or Adam Betteridge at 0333 344 2341 or

About the World Extreme Medicine Expo:

The World Extreme Medicine Conference and Expo will take place at Dynamic Earth, Edinburgh, EH8 8AS from 18 – 21 November 2016. Bringing together many of the world’s brightest medical minds, it will focus four core disciplines:

· Disaster and humanitarian medicine

· Extreme, expedition and space medicine

· Human endurance and sports medicine

· Prehospital medicine.

The exposition’s mission is to break down barriers, build bridges and make connections within the extreme medicine community.

The term ‘Extreme Medicine’ was first coined by Mark Hannaford and Sean Hudson as an umbrella term for these extra-clinical medical practices.

Contact Name: Tina Fotherby
Role: Founder
Company: Famous Publicity Ltd
Contact Email: click to reveal e-mail
Contact Phone: 03333442341
Company Website:

Nasa flight surgeons and Arctic medics en route to Scotland

by Laura Piper

The elite individuals are taking part in World Extreme Medicine.

When a solar storm hits your space shuttle while you’re orbiting the earth through icy stars Dr Michael Barratt is the man you want on board.

An experienced Nasa flight surgeon, Michael was launched through the atmosphere to support two spacewalks for the final mission of SS Discovery and spent 199 days as the chief medical officer on the International Space Station.

He’s one of an elite team of medical professionals spearheading the practice of extreme medicine, from the jungles of South America to the frontline of war.

“I’m a space guy,” says Michael cheerfully. “My passion is the adapted physiology of people in space. What our bodies can do up there is really quite amazing.”

Back on base at Nasa in Houston, Texas, 57-year-old Michael is currently packing his bags on earth for his next mission though – to a unique conference about to be held in Scotland for the first time called World Extreme Medicine.

Joining him are some of the most dynamic medical practitioners in the world, including surgeons who have operated in the war zones of Sarajevo and Syria, remote first aiders who cope with sharks, polar bears and the ocean depths, along with trauma medics more used to glaciers and freezing mountain peaks.

“It began around a campfire in Namibia,” explains World Extreme Medicine founder Mark Hannaford.

“I was out there on an expedition and realised how useful it would be to have a course that could train doctors for working in difficult environments.”

Mark knew instinctively that communication would be key, building networks between doctors and adventurous souls that could lead to improved standards in remote, disaster and humanitarian medicine.

Out of it came a gathering in London, then Harvard University in Boston, of intrepid pioneers in medicine mixed with extreme explorers all with one common denominator – “It’s the remoteness,” says astronaut Michael Barratt.

“It’s people working out in places with limited resources and unique medical problems. In all of these places you have to approach each case with resourcefulness, technology and study and I think it’s an important aspect of this conference.

“Just because it’s remote and exotic doesn’t mean you can’t be academic about it.”

Zoologists studying the way geese can adjust their bodies to altitude change suddenly found themselves in front of the gleaming eyes of doctors working at high altitudes to save the lives of patients.

“For doctors, because they’re generally quite focused on their specialism, they’ve maybe never spoken to a zoologist,” explains Mark.

“There’s a whole word of this type of stuff and knowledge that can be shared.

“There might be some people in the audience of course who are wondering why we’re talking about frogs, but some people will think ‘that’s bloody brilliant! What can we learn from that?’

“There’s such a massive passion that comes out of it.”

A strong contingent of Scots will be at the event in Edinburgh, including doctor Andrew Murray who has worked for the Olympic, Paralympic and Commonwealth Games.

When not working in elite sport medicine, Edinburgh based Andrew has run 4,300km from Scotland to the Sahara desert, placed first in the North Pole Marathon, the Antarctic Ice Marathon and the Gobi Challenge and completed a husky trek in -40C in Outer Mongolia.

“I think it’s absolutely fantastic that it’s coming to Edinburgh,” says Andrew.

“We’ve got some incredible speakers and adventurers here in Scotland and it’s great to welcome more over to share tales from the likes of the North Pole and the Sahara desert.

“I’ve been fortunate enough to visit some of the most extreme and beautiful parts of the world as a doctor and I’m looking forward to hearing other’s stories.”

The event will take place at Dynamic Earth in Edinburgh from November 18 and the team are hopeful that Scotland’s next generation of ground breaking doctors will be there.

“We learn from each other, I learn things from others that would never even cross my mind,” says Michael Barratt.

“When I’m not speaking, I’m out there taking notes from the others as fast as I can.

“Some of these guys are people no-one will have heard of but know of so much we need to hear, working on the frontline of war with mass causalities on limited resources.”

The organisers have deliberately chosen Edinburgh as place where there is a large base of elite medical students and young doctors.

“One of the delights is passing what we’ve learned on to them and hearing their own ideas which would never have crossed our mind,” says Michael.

“Edinburgh has so much to offer us and the advancement of medical practice.”

Michael in particular will be there to speak on the human ability to cope in space, especially in the run up to the future mission to Mars.

“There’s going to be more not less space flight in the future as the commercial world starts to heat up,” says Michael.

“Especially for the younger medics, we hope some will follow on the path as well.”

Founder Mark Hannaford is equally looking forward to engaging Scottish talent and hints that a more permanent Scottish base for the extreme medicine gathering could be on the cards.

“It’s a perfect home for us and I wouldn’t be surprised if it became a permanent one,” he says.

“Edinburgh has a magnificent history of medical advancement behind it.”

The main wish for now though, is for the elite minds of the medical world to meet and get talking.

“One of my defining moments so far has been putting Mike from NASA and the doctor from a base camp at Everest in the same cab,” says Mark.

“When great minds meet you have no idea what that could lead to.”

Laura Piper @STVLauraPiper


Consultant Physican – Infectious Disease: Alice Springs

Head Medical are promoting an incredible opportunity for a Consultant Physician in Infectious Diseases.  The role is based in Alice Spring and would suit someone who Find medical jobs in Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Gulf Region, Canada and UK through Head Medicalenjoys biking & hiking!

As Staff Specialist in Infectious Diseases your responsibilities will include (but are not limited to):
§ Providing ongoing leadership in the department and the hospital, focusing on patient safety and the exceptional services.
§ Delivering first class inpatient, outpatient and consultative clinical services in General Medicine and Infectious Diseases.
§ Initiating and participating in quality management projects and staff professional development programs.
§ Supervise and participate in teaching programs for junior medical staff, including advanced trainees and medical students.

§ Participate in antimicrobial stewardship.

A full description of the role is available on our jobs page, HERE

Head Medical are the UK’s leading international medical recruitment specialist. They recruit Doctors for fantastic positions in Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, and the Gulf. They also recruit for jobs in the UK.  They’re committed to turning your ideas and career goals into reality with the right job in the right location.


Focus on Psych Jobs Downunder

Edinburgh based medical recruitment specialists Head Medical have a number of psychiatry roles in Australia.HeadMedical5

We’ve listed the vacancies on our jobs page, HERE, but to give you a flavour of what they have available, they include:

Head Medical are the UK’s leading international medical recruitment specialist. They recruit Doctors for fantastic positions in Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, and the Gulf.  They also recruit for jobs in the UK and are committed to turning your career ideas and goals into reality with the right job in the right location.

Find medical jobs in Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Gulf Region, Canada and UK through Head Medical

Meet Head Medical at the World Extreme Medicine conference in Edinburgh at the World Extreme Medicine Conference, 18 – 21 November.