World Extreme Medicine News

After seven fantastic years, how could we make our world-renowned Extreme Medicine Conference even better you might ask?

It’s a difficult one, as so many of you have told us it’s pretty amazing already. In fact, in a survey we carried out, 70% of attendees felt inspired and motivated to change their career, but just like medicine, we are always looking to push the boundaries and the 2019 conference was no exception.

As the world’s largest gathering of extreme medics and medical mavericks, our 2019 World Extreme Medicine (WEM) Conference was to be our most ambitious, industry diverse and world-changing conference so far – including the introduction of a new overarching theme ‘Thriving in Adversity’ for 2019.

Discover what was NEW for #WEM19…

NEW Theme: Thriving in Adversity
Mark Hannaford, Conference Founder introduced the 2019 theme:

Our theme for this year is ‘Thriving in Adversity’, a theme I’m confident will resonate with anyone practising medicine in extreme conditions. Typically, the image we conjure up when we talk ‘extreme medicine’ is medicine delivered whilst clinging to the side of a mountain or bouncing in the back of a helicopter, but it’s much more than that.

For us it’s the entire pre-hospital environment from a lone GP in the Outer Hebrides, a HEMS paramedic landing in a field to a humanitarian nurse under fire in Mosul. All of these scenarios and the multitude of others come with the stress of making life-changing decisions with limited resources, with uncontrollable variables and choices often made solo.

To provide the best medicine in remote places we need to acknowledge this pressure, to give stress a name, to make it one of the variables we can attempt to control both during and after an incident. As clinicians, there’s an urgent need to administer mental first aid to oneself.

This year we have gathered some of the UK’s and indeed the world’s most experienced medics to learn, and to be inspired, by their experiences and to find out what it takes both clinically and mentally to be amongst the best.

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NEW categories were introduced to make planning easier
One of the biggest changes to 2019 was the introduction of categories across the three days to make it easier for delegates to plan their days around the speakers they wish to listen to and the workshops they didn’t want to miss out on. By downloading the  #WEM19 app, they were able to find each category colour coded, so all they had to do is choose the categories they were interested in, filter the results and track the relevant talks and workshops for the days they were attending.

The #WEM19 categories were:

  • Medicine Beyond Earth – Space medicine and aeronautics
  • Resilience in Adversity – Self-care, psychology and mental health
  • The Human Factor – Human performance within complex systems and dynamic environments
  • I’m a casualty, get me out of here! – The art of rescue and evacuation from challenging environments, major incident planning and extended casualty care
  • Exped Essentials – A series of practical and applied sessions on core topics in wilderness medicine to keep your skills up to date
  • Extreme Skills – Learn a range of practical skills and techniques from the masters
  • Humanitarian Essentials – A series of practical and applied sessions on core topics in humanitarian medicine to keep your skills up to date
  • Beyond the Battlefield – Working in the ‘hot zone’, includes military and humanitarian deployments to areas of war
  • Extreme Careers – Inspiration from humans who’ve done incredible things and how you can get involved
  • Extreme Innovation – New technologies and ideas that transform and inspire.

In addition to this diverse array of themes, we also had our exclusive ‘Thriving’ series, designed to help delegates become a more effective practitioner of remote medicine in a variety of extreme environments.

  • Thriving in the Furnace: Desert medicine and managing heat-related diseases
  • Thriving in the Freezer: Polar medicine and managing cold-related diseases
  • Thriving in Water: Managing medical care in Ocean and marine environments
  • Thriving in Sport: Managing medical care for extreme events and working with Extreme Athletes

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NEW Guest Speakers
We are fortunate enough to have some of the world’s most remarkable medics, world-leading adventurers and internationally acclaimed explorers as part of our guest speaker line and 2019 was no different.

Our speakers inspired and encouraged with their own personal stories and experiences, as well as sharing new innovations, expertise and wisdom in medicine conducted in challenging and often harsh and dangerous environments.

Guest speakers included:

  • Michael Von Bertele
  • Don Pettit
  • Mauro Della Torre
  • Serena Auñón-Chancellor
  • Kevin Fong
  • Dr Rudie van Vuuren

Not to mention some of our favourite speakers and good friends returning to the stage including Dr Chris Imray, Salehya Ahsan, Mike Barrett, Burjor Langdana, Emily Mayhew and Jason ‘Foxy’ Fox.

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NEW Workshops
Across all 3 days, we had an array of practical sessions, hands-on workshops and panel discussions that reflected the theme for that day. Delegates learnt from our hand-picked experts who showcased and taught the essential skills required when in extreme and under-resourced conditions.

Our workshop booking system changed slightly for 2019, with workshops going on sale and available to book from 28th October 2019, meaning delegates had more time to research and plan their visit using the #WEM19 app and website. For anyone who missed the booking window there were a limited number of spaces for each workshop which were available on the day on a first come, first served basis.

Workshop highlights included:

  • Future of Space Travel and Medicine
  • Challenging the Status Quo – Being a Female Medic in the Military
  • How to get your first job as an Expedition/Humanitarian/Pre-Hospital medic
  • Expedition Vehicle Maintenance
  • Caught in the Middle of a Multiple Casualty Terrorist Attack

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What could delegates expect across the 3 days?
We had a jam-packed schedule of events bringing together the very best practical training, motivating insights and innovation, plus of course, the most amazing networking opportunities, where else in the world will you have the opportunity to speak with a NASA astronaut one minute and then meet a world record holder and leading explorer the next?

Day 1: Expedition and Wilderness Medicine
Bringing you the very best of Expedition and Wilderness Medicine, from the most remote regions of Antarctica to the depths of space.

Day 2: Disaster and Humanitarian Medicine
The day focuses on Humanitarian and Disaster medicine, equipping you with the skills you need in order to deliver medical care where it’s needed most.

Day 3: Extreme Pre-Hospital Care & Retrieval Medicine
Learn about pre-hospital care at its most extreme, as we explore how emergency medicine and prolonged care is delivered in the most remote environments.

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Don’t just take our word for it…

Warning! Attend World Extreme Medicine Conference at your own risk! So much inspiration and so many great speakers lined up – it may change your life.

Dr Katya May, WEM18 Conference attendee


Feeling inspired? #WEM21 A New World Awaits…

Join us this year (13th – 15th Nov) for our 10 year anniversary, where for the first time in WEM history, you can either attend in person at Dynamic Earth in Edinburgh or online via our brand new Virtual WEM Environment – we guarantee you an experience like no other! Book your place today!

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