Lucky Jim Award 2021 (Part 1)

Posted by Jeremy Windsor on May 14, 2021

Earlier this year the British Mountain Medicine Society launched the BMMS Dr Jim Milledge Mountain Medicine Bursary. This award is designed to support those in the early stages of their career who intend to undertake a project in mountain medicine. Further details can be found hereThe winners of the 2021 Lucky Jim Award are Ffyon Davies, Christopher Lewis and Diggory North. Over the next few months we hope to talk to them all and find out more about their projects. Starting us off is Ffyon Davies...

Thanks Ffyon for talking to me. Can I start by asking you to  tell us a little bit about yourself and what the winning of the award means to you?

I'm a Clinical Fellow in Emergency Medicine working in Glan Clwyd Hospital in North Wales. I'm also a keen mountaineer and climber, just starting out in the world of mountain medicine! 

I'm so pleased and honoured to have been awarded the Lucky Jim Award (named after Prof Jim Milledge), especially as I believe that many of his colleagues will be involved with the project. It's a tremendous honour to have been awarded a bursary named in his honour, as he is truly one of the legends and pillars of research in mountain medicine. I hope to do justice to an award named after him!

Tell us about the project that you won the award for. What questions are you trying to answer?

The idea for the project started after an interview I did with Pete Callaghan who was responsible for setting up the BMC's Accident and Near Miss Reporting System. As part of the research for that article, it became clear that there is a growing interest in trying to identify and reduce the risks of adverse events associated with mountaineering sports. The American Alpine Club has been publishing Accidents in North American Climbing since 1948 and more recently, the Petzl Foundation, in collaboration with Camp-to-Camp, have started the worldwide SERAC database. The aim of both projects has been to share first hand accounts in an attempt to improve safety in the mountain environment. However, it is not clear what else is going on around the world. 

Ffyon's project will examine the process of accident and near miss reporting that occurs in different parts of the world. It will set out to identify the process by which a report is written and presented to an audience. Is it down to the victims, witnesses or professional staff to complete the report? Is it voluntary? Anonymous?

With this project, I am trying to answer the question - What processes currently exist for reporting accidents, incidents and near misses in the mountain environment? At the very least, this will identify what currently exists across the world. But I also believe it will go some way to identifying best practise and provide a practical guide to national organisations who are planning to develop their own accident and near miss reporting system.

How will you go about answering the question?

The plan is to develop a questionnaire using a qualitative approach. I will first test the questionnaire on a small group first, request feedback and make subsequent improvements. This will then be distributed to the national organisations affiliated with the UIAA and the UIAA Medical Commission. The key to the success of this project will be collaboration!

The content of the report will also be examined. What sort of mountain activities are reported? Skiing? Rock Climbing? Mountaineering? Competition events? Indoor activities? What details are included? What guidance is provided? Is it limited to text or are images included?

The best research is often done through collaboration, who will be working with you on this?

I am very grateful to David Hillebrandt who will act as the project's link to the UIAA project. I will be also approaching members of the British Mountain Medicine Society (BMMS) for their help too. I am also hoping to get the cooperation of the team behind 'North American Accidents' and SERAC. The idea for this project was sparked after interviewing Pete Callaghan about the BMC accident database and he is also very keen to get involved.

The outcome of an accident or near miss report will also be studied. Is there an opportunity for those involved to publish their reflections? Can readers respond with comments and questions? Is there a process in place that uses these reports to influence future mountain practise?

How will you present the results?

I'm hoping to present the results in a number of different ways - the aim is to raise awareness and get the word out about this project, and promote the conversations and culture shift that might promote a safer mountain environment through sharing experiences and mistakes. I hope to present the results in the medical literature as well as a series of face to face meetings and online through blogs and podcasts.

What are you hoping to learn along the way?

As a beginner in the world of mountain medicine, I'm hoping to get a feel for the culture and people involved in research in mountain medicine. As an individual, I hope this gives me a platform to build upon in terms of research into the culture and safety aspects of mountain medicine, and I'd love to continue research in mountain medicine in the future. I hope this project will give me some of the experience, skills, and contacts to do this in the future. 

In addition to this, I feel particularly passionate about this project and making the mountains safer for everyone to enjoy. This project has practical applications for expedition medics and mountain medicine around the world. It could lead to huge improvements in the way accidents are reported internationally, and to increased awareness, targeted training, mountain rescue and informing expedition planning for the future. 

Thanks Ffyon and good luck with your project! 

In addition to supporting Ffyon, the Lucky Jim Award has also been able to recognise Chri Lewis and Diggory North. An interview with Chris can be found here.

At times the mountains can be a dangerous place to be. Read this first hand account of being injured in an avalanche, the role of psychological first aid and an extraordinary night on Ben Nevis here

For more on the BMC Frostbite Advisory Service take a look at this.

The Birmingham Medical Research Expeditionary Society (BMRES) and the British Mountain Medicine Society (BMMS) have joined forces to organise the 2021 Altitude Research Conference. The face-to-face event will take place in Birmingham on the 11th September. Speakers will include Peter Bartsch, Jo Bradwell and Chris Imray. There will also be presentations from members of the UK's leading research groups as well as ample opportunity for researchers, young and old, to present posters and short talks about their work.

Further details can be found here.

If you would like to find out more about mountain medicine why not join the British Mountain Medicine Society? See this link for details.

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