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Complications Associated With The Rescue Of Injured Persons In Isolated Environments

Mountains by the ocean in Antarctica.Isolated environments combined with austere circumstances sometimes call for extraordinary measures, and in particular call for planning in advance for situations of multi-casualty incidents. Many, if not most, austere settings are in outdoor or frankly wilderness settings. Anyone who spends considerable time in the outdoors is going to sooner or later encounter a group of individuals in need of assistance in a setting of limited resources. This could be a scout troop suffering sunburn, multiple persons stung by a swarm of bees, a group of people struck by lightning, or a carful of people in a vehicle swamped and trapped in a flood. A winter camping expedition might be overcome by an unanticipated storm that generates victims of hypothermia. At the ends of the earth, the risks may be greater and multiplied by the very difficult logistics of rescue and evacuation.

Christopher Mills, MD and colleagues recently published a very interesting article entitled “Mass Casualty Incident Response and Aeromedical Evacuation in Antarctica” (Western Journal of Medicine 2011;12(1):37-42). This excellent review addresses the complications of multiple environmental and operational challenges, and highlights that Read more »

This post, Complications Associated With The Rescue Of Injured Persons In Isolated Environments, was originally published on by Paul Auerbach, M.D..

Why Only Some People Experience High Altitude Sickness

Andrew in Colorado, Summer 2011

Hi! Greetings from Breckenridge, Colorado. At 10,000 feet, I am told it is the highest resort town in North America. The Rocky Mountain scenery is breathtaking. But there’s a problem for about one in four of us who visit here, especially people like me who live at sea level. We can get hit with high altitude sickness and a few days ago, I was one of the unlucky ones.

What happens is your body isn’t used to the thin air and your blood has difficulty getting enough oxygen to your body. It usually happens at altitudes over 8,500 feet. You get an ongoing headache, you feel tired, you have insomnia (I was sleepless for two nights!), you could have nausea and certainly fatigue. Drinking lots of water and passing up alcohol can help, but even then some people have problems.

When I finally saw a family doctor – Doctor P.J. – he told me it’s genetic. Some people have trouble “acclimatizing” and others don’t, but there’s no easy way to know who will be affected before you make the climb. Now that I know I have difficulty I will take a prescription medicine (Diamox) ahead of coming up here again.

Doctor P.J. says even Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Andrew's Blog*

Is Sunburn More Likely On The Beach Or In The Mountains?

While vacationing in Idaho and Montana last week (blissfully off the grid), I experienced something beautiful: altitude. At 6,260 feet Stanley, Idaho is a mile higher than my home in San Diego. The skies there were a brilliant blue. There was daylight well after 10PM. The mornings were a chilly 35 degrees. And I got sunburned.

How can this be? Montana is over 1,000 miles north of San Diego. Shouldn’t the sun be stronger down here? Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at The Dermatology Blog*

Latest Interviews

IDEA Labs: Medical Students Take The Lead In Healthcare Innovation

It’s no secret that doctors are disappointed with the way that the U.S. healthcare system is evolving. Most feel helpless about improving their work conditions or solving technical problems in patient care. Fortunately one young medical student was undeterred by the mountain of disappointment carried by his senior clinician mentors…

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How To Be A Successful Patient: Young Doctors Offer Some Advice

I am proud to be a part of the American Resident Project an initiative that promotes the writing of medical students residents and new physicians as they explore ideas for transforming American health care delivery. I recently had the opportunity to interview three of the writing fellows about how to…

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Latest Book Reviews

Book Review: Is Empathy Learned By Faking It Till It’s Real?

I m often asked to do book reviews on my blog and I rarely agree to them. This is because it takes me a long time to read a book and then if I don t enjoy it I figure the author would rather me remain silent than publish my…

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The Spirit Of The Place: Samuel Shem’s New Book May Depress You

When I was in medical school I read Samuel Shem s House Of God as a right of passage. At the time I found it to be a cynical yet eerily accurate portrayal of the underbelly of academic medicine. I gained comfort from its gallows humor and it made me…

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Eat To Save Your Life: Another Half-True Diet Book

I am hesitant to review diet books because they are so often a tangled mess of fact and fiction. Teasing out their truth from falsehood is about as exhausting as delousing a long-haired elementary school student. However after being approached by the authors’ PR agency with the promise of a…

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