World Extreme Medicine News

Ben Cooper – WEM faculty, ED Charge Nurse and Advance Nurse Practitioner for Antarctic Logistics & Expeditions 

Ben’s career path began in Whitley Bay, where as a young schoolboy he was inspired to work in challenging situations by his uncle’s exploits as a Royal Air Force search and rescue pilot. This fascination with the ‘extreme’ inevitably led him into a career that now involves 3 of his favourite things – medicine, travel and adventure.

As a teenager, Ben and his friend had a climbing accident in the Lake District and were brought to safety by Langdale Ambleside Mountain Rescue team. It was this incident 15 years ago that started his pre-hospital care career and his love for mountain rescue. As an aspiring mountaineer he joined Northumberland National Park Search and Rescue Team and when he moved to Sheffield in 1994 to start a diploma in nursing studies, Ben joined Edale Mountain Rescue Team: one of Britain’s busiest based in the nearby Peak District National Park.

It was long-term friend and mountain rescue colleague Martin Rhodes that first introduced the idea of becoming a location medic to Ben. Taking unpaid leave from the hospital, Ben took part in his first expedition to the Arctic, providing safety and medical support for a documentary being produced by Channel 4. Following the success of this Arctic expedition more job offers followed, and in 2001 he started working with consultancy company Poles Apart as a location medic. Enjoying his new-found love of practising medicine in extreme situations, Ben negotiated a contract with his hospital trust that allowed him to take 2-weeks unpaid leave each year to take on short-term projects for expedition organiser Antarctic Logistics and Expeditions (ALE).

Ben spent five seasons in the Antarctic at ALE’s field camp, Patriot Hills (home to one of the world’s most remote field hospitals) providing medical, rescue and emergency logistical support to expeditions. From there he has helped to provide medical and rescue cover to expeditions skiing to the South Pole, climbing Mount Vinson, running the Antarctic Marathon and 100km race as well as escorting clients on flights to the South Pole.

Ben has featured on International Nurses Day with a great article in the BBC

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