Nursing in disaster zones under spotlight at ‘extreme medicine’ conference

Nurses and clinicians who care for people in extreme or hostile environments, as well as disaster zones, are among an eclectic range of speakers at an international conference this month.

Nurses who care for people in hostile environments or in the wake of international disasters are among an eclectic range of speakers at an ‘extreme medicine’ conference in Scotland this month.

The World Extreme Medicine Conference and Expo will hear stories from those who
practise medicine in war-torn countries. Picture: iStock

Zoology experts, aerospace medics, astronauts, adventurers, remote medicine specialists, mountaineers and bionanotechnology professors are also speaking about their work.

Now in its fifth year, the World Extreme Medicine Conference and Expo is aimed at those who practise medicine at its most remote and austere.

St Thomas’ Hospital emergency department senior sister Chrissy Alcock, who has a long background in working in humanitarian crises, is running a session for clinicians on training for disaster response.

Bringing skills back

Ms Alcock also works as a consultant for UK-Med, a charity providing emergency medical care in the aftermath of disasters on behalf of the UK government.

She has delivered care in many international medical emergencies, conflict zones and sudden onset disasters, and delivers preparatory training to nurses and other clinicians before their deployment.

‘It is very tough working in these environments, but it is more rewarding than anything else,’ Ms Alcock told Nursing Standard.

‘Doing this work reminds me why I went into nursing in the first place, and the skills you bring back to the NHS are really important.

New challenges 

‘No disaster or emergency is the same. All bring new challenges, but if you have got a good team working together with the right attitude, no matter how difficult the situation, it helps.’ 

Ms Alcock added that midwives, emergency, theatre and ITU nurses are particularly sought-after by UK-Med.

The conference runs in Edinburgh from 18-21 November.

Further information

View the conference programme here.

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