Exile Medics Festival of Wilderness Medicine 2016

15th October 2016

Glenny Wood, Clapton in Gordano, Portishead, Somerset BS20 7RQ

It's over. The 2016 Festival of Wilderness Medicine from Exile Medics was a spectacular success with anyone and everyone who ever dreamed of wilderness travel and medicine is joining us on the single greatest day in the Exile Medics calendar. Seminars, workshops, kit, music, barbecues, campfires, Somerset Cider, networking, poster and photo competition, tarantulas crawling over (many frightened looking) people, a 13 foot boa constrictor, the worlds second largest scorpion, a lethal centipede and off road driving contributed to the most superb festival yet. 

The kit village with Snow & Rock, Montane and Extreme adventure foods did a roaring trade, and we've built connections that should last for the years to come. 

Supported by

Exile Medics Festival Review – a student’s perspective

Wow! What a weekend!

Arriving late on the Friday night to my first Exile Medics Festival, I didn’t know what to expect. I pitched my tent and headed down to the campfire where I could hear some of the other delegates enjoying a few beers and getting to know each other and so joined in. Having had a chat and met some lovely people I headed to bed, as I knew the next day was going to be a busy one!

We were woken up nice and early on the Saturday morning (by an airhorn no less) to the news that there was a hot breakfast waiting as well as a very welcome cup of tea. First on the agenda was a morning of fascinating and inspiring talks from both former and current ‘Exiles’ – sharing their experiences of working with the team. As a student, the talks not only gave a great insight into the ethos of the team and what to expect on a day-to-day basis if involved with an event but also gave a sense of hope and excitement that all of it was possible! For me, this is what makes the Exile Medics unique. Listening to the speakers (Consultants, Doctors, Paramedics, Nurses, Physios as well as students of all of the above) you feel that being part of the team for an event and experiencing expedition medicine first hand is a genuine possibility and crucially, not in 3 years time when you are post F2 and can ‘handle the responsibility’ but NOW, as a student, safe in the knowledge that you are part of a team, with senior support making the environment one that is conducive to help, support and learning. Incredibly exciting stuff!

A particularly interesting talk from my point of view (as someone who sees expedition medicine as a part of their career) was from Adam Brown (ED Consultant) who told us that Exiles are looking to expand their repertoire into training people for leadership roles. Evidently I was not the only one interested to hear this news, as it seemed to be the topic of many peoples’ conversations over our campfire lunch.

After a morning in the marquee, the afternoon called for some more practical use of the brain – the workshops! Picking 4 from the choice of 8 fantastic options was arguably the hardest part of the weekend but in the end, I had plumped for: splints and stretchers, the cold, foot care and expedition dentistry. All 4 workshops were incredibly useful. They were all practical in nature and crucially, long enough for everyone to have a go and feel like we actually learned something to take away with us (not always the case at these kind of events…).

During the break, the other workshop instructors were around and about to share their expertise so you didn’t feel like you missed out on any aspect of the teaching on offer (even holding a massive tarantula!).

After a full morning and an active afternoon, when the airhorn went to mark the end of the final workshop, everyone was ready to move back into the warmth of the marquee for one final awe-inspiring talk from keynote speaker - Dr. Anna Shekdar. Anna wowed us with her stories of expeditions and some stunning photos and videos of her ascent of Mount Everest in 2007.

The end of Anna’s talk and pub quiz marked the start of the festival in earnest. Out came the West Country cider, the smell of cooking on the barbecue as well as peoples’ dancing shoes and the party was soon in full swing. It gave a great opportunity to chat with all the other delegates and share stories and ideas.

Another great element of the workshop that is definitely worth a mention was the kit village. There were some real heavyweights of the expedition world (Montane, Snow and Rock, Expedition Foods) showing off their amazing products as well as offering some mouth-watering discounts – I think I may need a phone call to the bank manager!

All in all, I would give the Exile Medics 10/10. It combined everything you would expect from a weekend of Wilderness Medicine with a great, friendly atmosphere with the added ‘can-do’ attitude that makes this organisation so unique. The only question that remains is: “When is the next one?”

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