Caring For Open Water Swimmers In The Extreme

Video courtesy of Henri Kaarma and Wyatt Song in Murmansk, Russia.

Nuala Moore gave her first lecture at the World Extreme Medicine – 1st Ocean Extreme Medicine course in Plymouth, UK.

Moore was invited to contribute her expertise and knowledge to the World Extreme Medicine program (formerly called Expedition & Wilderness Medicine), the world’s leading provider of expedition, wilderness and remote medicine training courses for medical professionals.

This is the World Extreme Medicine’s first time running this course and itinerary. They have created a wonderful list of topics, including Level 2 power boating course run under the RYA and all areas of ocean expedition interest such as hypothermia, hyperthermia, nutrition, recovery management and swimmer extraction from the water. This includes fractures and the injuries that ice swimmers can encounter and the challenges that we face,” explains the Irish ice swimmer from Dingle.

This is a fantastic opportunity to start creating the awareness of the questions we have in the extreme swimming community. We discuss topics such as how do we remove an acutely hypothermic swimmer from the water, what to do in the outcome of X, Y, and Z, and also now the treatment and management remotely of so many injuries, etc.

So much of the swimming world and challenges have really pushed and pushed into distances and temperatures of extreme limits, that before seemed more expedition-like. Swimmers once had expedition teams that included doctors, but now they bring along friends and family who may not have the experience necessary to manage an outcome.

Within the last 10 years extreme swims have now become mainstream.

With the medical world, many medics are not looking at the reality of some outcomes

Over the last four years, Moore has managed and documented numerous outcomes both in distance and in the extreme cold. “I was very excited to put forward some theories where I may assist in the future because I have seen the swims and managed some of the difficult recoveries, both in channel swimming and ice swimming.”

She presented the medical, physiological and psychological impact to both ocean extreme swimmers and ice swimmers to her medical colleagues from the kayaking, transatlantic, yachting, sailing, and everything water-related so hyperthermia is a topic for management and recognition.

The course highlights included:

* Fracture management & musculoskeletal injuries including taping and splinting
* Common conditions: gastro, dermatology, prolonged salt water exposure, nutrition, sea sickness, public health, nutrition
* Trauma recovery, burns and wound management
* Nutrition, hydration and vitamin deficiency
* Situational awareness and physiological first aid
* Marine envenomation
* Helicopter procedures, abandon ship procedures, aeromedical evacuation
* Immersion, post submersion and unconscious patient
* Hypothermia and hyperthermia
* Medical kits & communication
* Boat handling with search and rescue

The ethos of “where humanity goes, medicine must follow” is so true. I believe we can look more at some of the swims which had negative outcomes and see what can be learned and also look at some of the extreme swims and also see what medical outcomes we can maybe push forward.”

For more information, visit here.

Video above is from the 2015 International Ice Swimming Association 1 km World Championships in Murmansk, Russia with Evgeni Rabinovich [Lane 1] , Sergio Salomone [Lane 2], Craig Lenning [Lane 3], Christof Wandratsch [Lane 4], Henri Kaarma [Lane 6], Albert Sobirov [Lane 7], Eduard Khodakovsk [Lane 8], and behind the camera Wyatt Song.

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Steven Munatones