This year was the 40th anniversary of one of the largest Emergency Medical Service conferences in the Western United States. I was given the privilege to be a guest presenter at this conference and address the topic, "Providing the Best Care in the Worst Conditions". Some of my other jobs and interests are: a Paramedic / Firefighter for my hometown, member of Utah County Search and Rescue, Paramedic for Moab's EMS, and a Flight Paramedic for Classic Air Medical based out of Moab, Utah. The Principal Investigator (the lead scientist) of our Soil Research Team, is Dr. Byron Adams from BYU, and asked me if I would assist in the roll as a field medic while on the expedition. Of course, I will also be doing the science work with the rest of his team. I spent time at the beginning of this presentation sharing my excitement for my upcoming deployment to the ice of Antarctica, and for the environmental concerns scientists have for our planet.
Topics I discussed included: cardiac issues, hypothermia, airway problems, chest trauma, stroke, allergic reactions, bleeding emergencies, and diabetic issues.
Being out in the Dry Valleys of Antarctica has been compared to being on the Moon. It could take longer to get to a trauma center from the Dry Valleys than it could to be on the Moon, so it is important that our team be prepared for these possible "Back-Country Issues".
I had a great time instructing at this conference, sharing Antarctic facts, and meeting these amazing First Responders, many of which said they will be following these Antarctic blogs. I shared Antarctic facts such as: The South Pole is almost at 10,000 feet above sea level, and Antartica is larger than the continental US. I also shared about the logistics of living on the ice and some possible medical concerns to be prepared for while that far away from a trauma center. A medical evacuation from the Dry Valleys would include a helicopter ride (if a helicopter was available and the weather was good) to get back to the McMurdo Base. Then an Air Force plane would leave New Zealand to come pick you up (if the weather was good), to get you back to definitive care in New Zealand. The great thing is that there are many safety features built into the program so any medical or trauma issues are very rare. Please check out my post regarding the rigorous physical qualification (PQ) process all participants need to pass prior to deployment.