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Polar Medicine training course - South Island, New Zealand

Course Details

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Polar Medicine 2017 | New Zealand New Zealand

23 July 2017 to 28 July 2017

A Winter Extreme Climate Expedition Medicine Course in the South Island of New Zealand, close to Wanaka and Queenstown, featuring six days of Mountain and Polar Expedition Medicine. (As featured in the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners magazine.)

This Expedition & Wilderness Medicine's Polar Medical Skills course is located on the slopes of the Southern Alps, close to the adventure sports Mecca of Queenstown. It is based on the hugely successful format developed for our northern Norway training course in the High Arctic, which routinely receives outstanding feedback from delegates.


More Information

We developed the Polar Medicine course for medical professionals interested in working in the great outdoors, and for expedition and wilderness medics preparing to work in cold or high altitude environments. It is is widely accepted as one of the best presented and most comprehensive winter medical skills courses available, routinely receiving outstanding feedback from delegates.


Our unmatched Polar Medicine teaching faculty includes ex-team members of the New Zealand Antarctic Programme, ex-Special Forces and Polar instructor, who together have racked up more than 50 Polar seasons. 

If yu'vve ever considered working on a winter, polar, or high altitude expedition or a ski patrol, or you're simply interested in sharing the experience of a lifetime with like-minded medics (and perhaps staying on for a weekend of wintersports in nearby Queenstown), then this course is for you.

What to expect

Days are spent in the field, where our Polar Medicine tutors develop your specialist skills with practical sessions and hands-on experience of rescuing and treating cold-water immersion, frostbite, altitude-related illnesses and hypothermia, with training in other essential cold-environment skills, such as dog-sledding, cross-country skiing, snow mobiling, snow-shoeing and the building of emergency shelters.

Evenings classroom sessions cover the essential expedition medical skills required to care for and treat the sort of injuries and illnesses likely to occur in a harsh, cold climate and at altitude. And, of course, there's time to share drinks and campfire tales with new friends and colleagues before you tumble, exhausted but inspired, into bed.

Whilst you don't need to be an elite athlete, you do need an adequate level of physical fitness to get the best from this course. You should, for instance, 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. We'll spend most of one day getting around on cross-country skis (very different to downhill skiing!), and other days on snow mobiles or using snowshoes. Other activities, such as running up hill behind a sled, pushing it at times, can be physically challenging. You'll spend time learning to work with the dogs and manage a dog sled, and experience the thrill of digging out a bogged-down snow machine...

This is a cold environment and it could well snow for many hours on some days, but, whatever the weather, we will spend one night out, either camping or in snow holes. Familiarising yourself with a cold climate is one of the principle objectives of this course, so if you can tolerate a degree of physical discomfort while retaining your sense of humour and enthusiasm, you'll get the most from the week, and from your teachers and fellow students. 

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: those arriving outside of the group transfer will need to make their 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


Day 1
Rendezvous with group at Queenstown Airport
Transfer to Lodge
Introduction to the week ahead and the Polar Medicine course
Introduction to Polar Medicine and standard operating procedures for a Polar environment

Day 2
Rotating group sessions #1 snowshoeing, GPS, navigation, firelighting
Rotating group sessions #2 snowmobiling
Evening lecture

Day 3
Rotating group sessions #3 princicples of pre hospital care
Rotating group sessions #4 wilderness resuscitation, group scenarios
Pre-expedition planning
Altitude medicine
Evening lecture

Day 4
Dog-sledding overview (combined group interactive event)
Expedition briefing
Kit inspection
Evening lecture or movie

Day 5
Wilderness snow hole camp in mountains
Snow hole briefing
Digging snow holes
Sleeping in snow holes

Day 6
Back into lodge
Real life scenarios
Polar Medicine Course summing up
Group transfer to Queenstown airport


"Fantastic faculty who adapted the experience depending on the doctor, challenging the more competent and supporting the less experienced." Polar medicine delegate

"Unforgettably fantastic: a brilliantly run course!" Polar medicine delegate

"The standard of teaching was excellent and I would be grateful if all the staff could be thanked and congratulated on their lectures." Polar medicine delegate

"This course, is we believe, the most comprehensive winter medical skills course outside of the military in the whole of Europe."  Across the Divide Expeditions.

"Probably one of the best courses you will ever do! Incredibly well organised, and presented with an infectious enthusiasm."  Polar Medicine delegate.


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