Expedition & Wilderness Medicine's Polar Medical Skills Course in New Zealand is located on the slopes of the Southern Alps close to the adventure sports mecca of Queenstown. It is based upon the highly successful format developed for our northern Norway training course in the High Arctic, which routinely receives outstanding feedback from its delegates.
The Polar Medicine course has been developed for medical professionals, expedition and wilderness medics working in cold and at altitude environments. The course aims to use the winter evenings to cover the essential expedition medical skills required to care for and treat injuries and illnesses likely to occur in this harsh environment, whilst the days are spent in the field.
The Polar Medicine tutors will develop the skills of the participants through practical sessions and hands-on experience, rescuing and treating cold-water immersion, frostbite, altitude related illnesses and hypothermia, all managed whilst in the field, thus further enhancing and refining the knowledge gained from our lectures. The cold winter days will be used to experience and develop winter survival skills such as building emergency shelters; navigation; fire-lighting; digging snow holes and avalanche awareness; as well as mastering the different techniques required to travel in a polar environment - dog sledding, skiing, snow mobiling, and snow shoeing, without which a successful medical response is obsolete.
Polar Course - Faculty
Our faculty can call on the knowledge of polar medicine experiences from some of the most remote locations in the world and have the skills of ex-New Zealand Antarctic Program team members, ex-special forces and polar instructors with over 50 polar seasons between them. There is no better way to prepare yourself for the rigours of wilderness medicine.
If you have ever considered working on a winter, polar, or high altitude expedition, a ski patrol, or simply having the experience of a lifetime, then this course is for you. In addition the course provides proximity to nearby ski fields giving you the perfect opportunity to stay on afterwards for a weekend of winter sports, or perhaps other Queenstown adventures.
Polar Medicine - Course Accreditation
In association with the Wilderness Medical Society we are able to offer the ability to earn 9.5 CME and credits towards the Wilderness Medicine Fellowship Program to gain the FAWM.
'This activity has been planned and implemented in accordance with the Essential Areas and policies of the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education through the joint sponsorship of the Wilderness Medical Society and Expedition Medicine. The Wilderness Medical Society is accredited by the ACCME to provide continuing medical education for physicians.
The Wilderness Medical Society designates this educational activity for a maximum of 9.5 AMA PRA Category 1 Credits TM. Each physician should only claim credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.'
Polar Medicine course - What to expect
This is a highly practical medical training course that will introduce you to the polar environment and prepare you for expedition medical work in Arctic and Antarctic regions. You will experience firsthand the challenges and some of the solutions to travel (by ski, dog sled and snow mobile), living and providing medical support in the cold. We teach through a combination of small group or classroom work and practical activity, with a significant emphasis on experiential learning. Whilst you do not need to be an elite athlete, an adequate level of physical fitness will ensure you get as much out of the course as possible. As a guide, you should be able to walk at least 20km carrying a 15kg pack without assistance, and repeat this on more than two successive days in one week. The terrain we will encounter is highly variable; you will be expected to spend most of a day on cross country skis which are very different to downhill skiing. All abilities from complete beginner to more advanced skiers can have a challenging and enjoyable day – we do find it is a great leveller.
Other days will be spent on a snow mobile or using snowshoes. Activities can also involve running up hill behind a sled pushing at times and can be relatively physical work. We also spend time learning to work with the dogs and how to manage a dog sled. Plus there is the challenge of digging out a bogged snow machine.
We are unable to influence the weather. It is a cold environment and we do spend 1 night out either camping or in snow holes. It is possible that there will be snow for many hours on some days of the course. Familiarising yourself with a cold climate is one of the principle objectives of this course; students who are able to tolerate a degree of physical discomfort whilst maintaining a sense of humour and enthusiasm will get the most from the week.
The price includes accommodation, meals (unless otherwise stated) and rental of specialist equipment, all course activities and group transfer from Queenstown Airport to the course location. If you are arriving outside of the group transfer you will need to make your own transfer arrangements. For a polar medicine kit list see below. The only additional costs are for your flights, drinks and items of a personal nature and travel insurance.