Mountain Rescue England and Wales, Mountain and Cave Rescue Medical Symposium.

Today three Team Call Out list members, Doctor Clare Whitney, Ana Toole, a Physiotherapist and Mark Scott, MR opiate trained and an NWAS accredited AED Trainer, journeyed north for the one day MREW Mountain and Cave Rescue Medical Symposium, held at the excellent facilities of Charlotte Mason College, Ambleside.

With a target audience aimed at Doctors and other Health Care Professionals involved in Mountain Rescue including team members very experienced in the provision of casualty care, today’s symposium was intended to address a variety of medical issues which are relevant to the treatment of conditions and injuries sustained by casualties in Mountain Rescue and Cave Rescue incidents.

Presenters attending were all prominent in their respective specialisms and are all actively involved in medical and trauma situations encountered in Mountain and Cave Rescue.

An account of the day, written by attendee Mark Scott, appears below.


The symposium was extremely well-attended with delegates from all corners of the UK. Ana, Clare and Mark all agreed the conference was excellent with a great variety of topics delivered by lively, enthusiastic, knowledgeable and often very humorous presenters. It was fascinating to hear the First Aid Lead of our sister organisation the RNLI describe their radical review of casualty care training and protocols, with food for thought for Mountain Rescue in much of what we heard, and so much in common that we face: caring for seriously injured or ill casualties in adverse environments.

We learned lessons from analysis of a number of incidents involving long falls, explored new methods to stem very serious bleeding, and had an informed look at the challenges that can be presented by older hill-goers. A research project involving a statistical survey of fatalities in Snowdonia over a number of years provided many valuable insights.

An overview of key types of drugs used in MR emphasised the importance of a sound knowledge of side-effects and of being prepared for adverse reactions. A completely fascinating and extremely impressive lecture on cold water immersion from Professor Mike Tipton of Portsmouth University was the highlight of the day, leaving one wondering how anyone could know so much about this one topic. A brief look at the experiments the professor does in his labs (a.k.a. torture chambers in my view) answers this question and make one very sympathetic towards his shivering, freezing cold volunteer research subjects!

Inevitably, part way through a lecture, there was a chorus of multiple pagers going off and away went a whole section of the audience in seconds without a word. Yes, a callout for them to a rescue in the dreadful pouring rain. That’s mountain rescue for you!