Taking a cue from the recent spike in aquatic patients for local BASICS doctors, this month BASICS Dorset hosted an education evening on Water Emergencies. Pre-hospital clinicians from all over Dorset and Hampshire packed out the Westbourne Baptist church hall to hear our guest speakers deliver some great teaching and practice updates for medical emergencies that may arise around Dorset's miles of fantastic coastline, beaches, rivers and lakes.
First up was Paul Savage from Saviour Medical, lately the clinical director for the RNLI and former ambulance paramedic. His lecture on "7 Ways To Die In Cold Water" told the story of how the body reacts to immersion in our seas and rivers. Waters around Britain have an average temperature of less than 12°C - enough to induce a myriad of cold shock reactions should you accidentally end up in the drink. Many of our local medics were surprised to hear that hypothermia is such a slow killer and it is more likely that you'll meet any of the other 6 deaths on the way to Davy Jones' locker.
Paul introduced the findings from recent research on human physiology in extreme environments carried out at the University of Portsmouth. He also provided an expert update on rescue techniques and pre-hospital care for patients who have ended up in trouble in the water. These techniques have been refined and proved during his service with the RNLI, in particular with the Thames Lifeboat.
After a short social break, two of BASICS Dorset's team took to the stage to deliver a lecture on Scuba Diving Emergencies. Dr Andy Ward and ICU technician Jon Bailey are both scuba geeks and volunteer diving instructors with the British Sub-Aqua Club. Between them they took the audience through the ways which deep water submersion affects the human body and the peculiar illnesses that can afflict divers. Highlights included an appearance from Dr Ward's Sodastream machine which was used for an excellent demonstration of the pathophysiolgy of decompression sickness. More useful was an update on the actions should anyone attend a diving emergency, especially the importance of oxygen therapy and an early referral to the nearest hyperbaric centre.