Natasha Syratt / 3rd year medical student / Plymouth University
Wild Trials an annual UK university event hosted by a different medical school wilderness medicine society every year with the aim to promote wilderness medicine and meet like minded individuals.
ALRIGHT LISTEN UP, OUR GUY HAS STEPPED ON A LANDMINE. OUTSIDE OF THE SAFE ZONE IS LITTERED WITH LANDMINES, IF YOU STEP OUTSIDE YOU. WILL. DIE. YOU ARE THE MEDICAL TEAM, AND THE ONLY MEDICAL HELP WE WILL RECEIVE UNTIL THE EMERGENCY SERVICES ARRIVE. NOW DO YOUR JOB AND HELP OUR MAN.
*Gunshot sounds and loud music*
We approached the casualty, their legs had been blown off from an explosion.
Ok, treat the catastrophic haemorrhage first- put a tourniquet on both legs. Administer tranexamic acid. Now to perform an A-E assessment. BANG! Another mine blows up. We’re deafened by the sound and can no longer hear each other. There’s another casualty outside the safe zone who needs immediate treatment. He can’t move. How do we get him into the safe zone? How do we communicate with each other…?
This was an example of one of the scenarios that we encountered during this year’s Wild Trials.
What // A competition between universities to manage a variety of different wilderness medicine scenarios. Teams of four compete to create a hands-on learning experience on how to manage patients in the wilderness. Each year the event is hosted by a different university enabling it to travel around the UK.
When // 22nd – 24th April 2022
Where // Chesterfield, Peak District
How much // £160 per team, for teams of four. This included two nights of camping and five meals. Transport to and from the event was not included in the cost.
Team prerequisites // Teams had to include a minimum of one preclinical (1st or 2nd year) or non-medic, and a maximum of one final year medic. Tickets were limited to one team per university at the start, and when there was more room for other teams to join ticket sales reopened. We sent two teams from Plymouth.
Who was involved // Twenty teams, all from different universities took part. Doctors were involved to judge the stations, providing feedback and teaching.
Wild trials 2022
The weekend was set on a fictional island: Merzonia, and we were given the role of F3 doctors. On the first day, we covered 12 scenarios. Each station lasted about half an hour, giving us enough time to assess the patient, make a management plan, and handover to the senior medical team in the field. My favourite stations included a snake bite, a fall from a cliff edge, and a landmine explosion.
On the second day, we worked in teams of eight (two teams from different universities) to run a rural walk-in clinic. My team started well organised, with designated jobs and good communication, however, the clinic quickly became overrun, making a more fast-paced and stressful scenario. My patient had gone into anaphylaxis after taking penicillin, and I was managing this by myself with basic medication and monitoring, whilst on the phone to the ambulance trying to get help (the ambulance could take up to six hours!)
To end the weekend we managed a mass casualty scenario. The stations were very realistic, with actors, and makeup to represent injuries such as burns and bites. We had a kit bag containing all our medical equipment, and access to the BNF to work out drug doses. Everyone enjoyed the mass casualty scenario. It was not part of the competition, so it was just a bit of fun (both for actors and students!) and an opportunity to learn how to manage such a situation.
The evenings were spent socialising with other students and having a few drinks. The second night encompassed a group yoga session followed by a campfire. A big party was thrown in the hut with everyone dancing and joining in the games. The weekend was a great way to meet other medical students with similar interests, and connect with doctors.
‘It was great to see so many excited medical students try each scenario and find new ways of doing things that we hadn’t planned for. We had to come up with things on the spot to keep the scenario going!’ ~ John, F1 Doctor
I loved it, and have come away with so much wilderness medicine knowledge and new friends. In addition to my passion for wilderness medicine, I am an outdoor junkie and love to make my own adventures, this was a great opportunity. For anyone who is considering a career in wilderness medicine, or just for anyone who wants to get involved in a fun weekend away with camping, making new friends, and a chance to learn some hands-on medicine, I would highly recommend getting involved.
Any university with a wilderness medicine society is welcome to get involved. You can get involved by being part of a team, or being a volunteer actor for the scenarios (which cost £20 this year). Wild Trials were advertised this year on the Facebook group ‘Student Wilderness Medicine UK’. I have not heard anything about Wild Trials 2023 yet, the dates and theme will likely be decided at the beginning of the next academic year. But keep an eye out for posts on this group.
Message from the organisers- Rosie Toms, Liverpool Wilderness Medicine Society President
‘Wild Trials was a culmination of many months of hard work, but it was so worth it when everything came together for a wonderful weekend of wilderness medicine in the sunny outskirts of the Peak District. My highlights from the weekend were having so many wilderness medicine enthusiasts together again after such a long time, and watching everyone get stuck in with all the challenges that came their way. We couldn’t have done it without everyone who gave up their weekend to assess and be patients – so thank you! We are so excited to see what Wild Trials 2023 has in store for next year.’