The Deepest Breath
About: This documentary takes a deep dive into the freediving community. As well as introducing the sport, it follows the relationship between record-breaking freediver Alessia Zechhini and her safety diver partner, Stephen Keenan.
Why: The intense filming really brings home the scale of what these athletes are achieving, and the deadly risks they take with every dive. I caught myself several times literally holding my own breath! Whether or not you like freediving, it’s hard not to be infected by their passion for their sport. There is an almost gladiatorial intrigue, bordering on the macabre, as you watch them push their physical and mental limits. During the documentary, you also witness the development of an extraordinary relationship between two people who are both passionate about taking freediving to the next level. Through Stephen, a renowned safety diver, you also gain some insight into the medical team and how they attempt to keep people safe during freediving competitions.
A Wilder Life
About: Dr Joan Louwrens is an African medical doctor with additional qualifications in family medicine, anaesthesia and tropical medicine. She swerved onto an unconventional medical path that led to her working across all seven continents, as well as some oceans in between.
Why: This book is a must-read for anyone who is interested in practising medicine outside of the safe environment of their hospital or GP practice. Dr Louwrens writes about her adventures practising medicine in places ranging from remote islands you have never heard of, to the polar regions of the Arctic and Antarctica. She has the ability to write in a vulnerable fashion, reflecting on her decision-making in difficult situations, and the burden of responsibility when you are the only doctor on-site. You can really feel her passion for adventure medicine through her compelling stories. In fact, it’s hard not to get inspired to plan your next trip and get out there!
Medicine on the Frontier (S1E1)
About: Luc Woodall Gillard and Mat Howes speak with Dr Rebecca Boys, freshly returned from working in Antarctica for 18 months with the British Antarctic Survey Medical Unit.
Why: Dr Boys talks about how she got into pre-hospital and expedition medicine. During the conversation, she explains the application process, and also how she prepared for her role as an expedition doctor. They discuss what outdoor skills are essential, as well as less obvious questions, such as how do you prepare to take on the role of nurse, radiographer or dentist?
It’s hard not to get swept away as she tells stories about her incredibly varied work, including in South Georgia, on the ship RRS Sir David Attenborough, the British Antarctic Survey station and being the co-pilot of a Twin-Otter aircraft. However it’s not all adventure and excitement. She takes care to underline the less pleasant aspects of the job during the podcast. From working during the COVID pandemic, to living through six weeks of darkness, Dr Boys talks about how she coped with the responsibility of taking care of her group in a remote and inhospitable area.
In summary, listen for a reflective and informative insight into what it’s like to be an expedition doctor in a remote area.
Watch this space to get your quarterly AM Team recommendations. We would also love to hear your suggestions!
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