BMMS Advanced Mountain Medicine and Skiing Course Report

Posted by Jeremy Windsor on Jun 26, 2020

News  is just in about the BMMS Advanced Mountain Medicine and Skiing Course that took place in Meribel this year. Here's Tony Page to tell us more...

"In all, 18 of us participated in this year's course. Sixteen stayed in the fantastic Chalet la Chouette and 2 in Chalet Belmont next door. To say that the chalets were comfortable would be an understatement - they were luxurious! The chalet hosts were lovely and the standard of catering exceptional.

The participants were a varied bunch - physicians, intensivists, surgeons, anaesthetists, general practitioners, portfolio career doctors and even a psychiatrist! There were also 3 non-medics: a gardener/horticulture student, an agricultural advisor and an outdoor instructor. Our day usually began with information given out at breakfast about a case for us to discuss during the day, on the lifts and at lunch stops. We had 1 day of free skiing so we could orientate ourselves and find our ski legs and then 5 mornings of skiing and mountain awareness training provided by instructors from New Generation Ski School.

Snow conditions weren’t the best (the last significant dump had been two weeks previously) but our instructors knew the area well and found us skiable off-piste, some of it relatively untouched powder, every day. We divided into 3 groups, roughly by skill level (I insisted on allocating myself to the middle group, though I suspect there were better skiers in the lower group) and reports were that all groups had a great time. After lunch we were free to ski as we wished, unless we had a scenario scheduled or on the Wednesday when we had the instructors all day for a tour/mountain journey.

There were 3 scenarios on the hill over the week: an avalanche rescue incident with multiple burials; a collision between 2 skiers, one ‘elderly’, resulting in injuries to both; and an incident at a mountain restaurant where there had been an explosion and fire in the kitchen resulting in multiple casualties amongst those who had managed to escape outside. This tested skills in incident management, triage, communication as well as pre-hospital care.

We were expected to have volunteered to present on a topic of interest to mountain medics and over the week we were treated to presentations on avalanche risk management, ski injuries and their prevention, analgesia in the mountains, surgery in austere environments (refugee camps), psychological first aid, nutrition on expeditions and prescribing abroad in remote environments. We had a bonus presentation by one of the chalet staff who had walked the Pacific Crest Trail the previous summer! This was an inspiring talk and conveniently preceded the presentation on nutrition. 

Participants were awarded 30 CPD points by the RCSEd faculty of pre-hospital care, but more importantly we got to spend time with a great bunch of like-minded people, were fed and watered to an amazingly high standard, improved our off-piste performance and learned some mountain medicine along the way. The course will be running again next year, and if you’ve not attended before, you should!"

Sounds like a brilliant week! Many thanks to Tony Page for supplying the text and photos.

Keep an eye on the BMMS website for details of future courses!

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