Wilderness Medicine focuses on dealing with issues away from definitive care and in exciting yet remote settings. Our setting in the southern Appalachian mountains provides us with an ideal "classroom" for experiencing outdoor sports of all kinds, and learning the appropriate management of emergency issues that arise in these arenas. Our Wilderness Medicine program, through didactics and hands-on experience, is designed to provide training that will give the practitioner skills to confidently handle these situations.
The Chattanooga area is a top destination spot for outdoors activities including rockclimbing (e.g. Sunset Rock on Lookout Mountain and the Tennessee Wall), white water kayaking (e.g. The Ocoee River, site of the 1996 Olympics), mountain biking, caving, and more.
In addition to Wilderness Medicine, specific training is necessary for other related topics where the usual diagnostic and treatment resources are not right at hand. While each of these are somewhat interrelated, the UTCOM program will also be providing training in:
Chattanooga doctors at Katrina
Dr. Chris Moore is the Director of Wilderness and Event Medicine. Dr. Moore has been a life member of the Wilderness Medicine Society (wms.org) since 1985 and has served on the Board of the WMS for two different terms, the most recent being 2005-2007. Over the past twenty years Dr. Moore has been the Trip Physician to places and activities such as whitewater rafting in Siberia to SCUBA diving and tropical travel in Belize to a film shoot in the Amazon to backpacking in the Rockies. In addition, he has served as the Event Physician for many whitewater events in the southeast including being the Venue Medical Coordinator for the 1996 Atlanta Olympics whitewater competition.
Dr. Moore has also been a participant on medical mission trips to Haiti multiple times since the mid 90s and has responded to disasters both in the US in New Orleans three days after Hurricane Katrina struck and several days after the Earthquake in Haiti in January, 2010 (See "Disaster Medicine" below).
The UTCOM has as a mission to provide trained personnel equipped to respond to both national and international disasters. In January 2010 several Erlanger based physicians provided aid to the devastating earthquake in Haiti:
From Chattanooga Times Free Press
Health care providers with Erlanger ties help in Haiti
Dr. Chris Moore, Emergency Medicine Physician in Haiti
Three local medical care professionals who work with Erlanger hospital arrived in Haiti Monday night with the help of Global Outreach International to help with the relief effort after the 7-magnitude earthquake struck the Caribbean country on Jan. 12.
The team includes: Jennifer Ohle, surgical nurse and preoperative services director for Erlanger Health System; Dr. Chris Young, an anesthesiologist with Anesthesiology Consultants Exchange; and Chris Moore, developer of the Odyssey Company on Lookout Mountain and is currently assisting Erlanger Health System in developing an Austere Wilderness Medicine Program. They are currently working out of a hospital in Port-au-Prince near the U.S. Embassy, according to family members, where they are treating patients for femur fractures and amputation
From Chattanooga Times Free Press
Tents Filled With Wounded
Life goes on in tent camps in the median of the highway through Carfrefour, Haiti, on Wednesday. Many people do not have homes to sleep in and those that do are afraid to stay in them. Wednesday morning's 6.1 quake helped reinforce these fears.
The grounds outside are not any better and "are filled with tents covering the walking and non-walking wounded and staffed by docs, nurses, paramedics and other medical and nonmedical people doing stuff they never thought they would do," Chattanoogan Dr. Chris Moore e-mailed from Haiti.
Two local doctors and a nurse from Erlanger hospital arrived in the Caribbean country Monday night after last week's devastating earthquake. They now are working alongside two Italian teams of surgeons.
"Honestly, almost every patient we see was injured in the initial earthquake which has now been eight days ago," Dr. Moore wrote in the Jan. 21 e-mail. "To see these incredibly severe injuries that have had no attention for eight days is sad and depressing."
The local team includes Jennifer Ohle, surgical nurse and preoperative services director for Erlanger Health System; Dr. Chris Young, an anesthesiologist with Anesthesiology Consultants Exchange and board member of the Signal Mountain-based American Haitian Foundation; and Dr. Moore, developer of the Odyssey Company on Lookout Mountain.
Vanessa Young, Dr. Young's wife, said she "received a call from him (Wednesday) night. That's the first and only time I've heard from my husband."
With the help of Global Outreach International, a missionary organization headquartered in Tupelo, Miss., the group was able to deliver supplies donated by Erlanger and to treat people for infections, bad gangrene and femur fractures, according to an Erlanger news release.
"The almost unbelievable number of femur fractures we have seen which are, for the most part, yet to be operated on, is overwhelming, not to mention that this is just at the hospital we are in," Dr. Moore wrote. "Then there are the very sad, necessary amputations which, when considering what conditions and quality of life they go back to, are even more poignant."
Numerous outdoor events occur in the Southeast that need medical supervision qualified to handle on-site emergencies and with seamless access to definitive care. Chattanooga hosts many such events. Numerous outdoor endurance events and competitions in Chattanooga take advantage of the rugged terrain and wilderness setting (http://www.runintheboonies.org).
The growing concern and willingness to provide health care in underserved regions of the world necessitate more training and understanding of the needs, capabilities, and cultures associated with these areas and the missions reaching out to them. Being equipped with wilderness medical training in addition to these skills provides the care giver with more confidence and skills to improvise. The Chattanooga area has numerous outreach programs based here, and one in particular, The Children's Nutrition Program of Haiti (http://cnphaiti.org/) was founded by UTCOM Cardiologist Dr. Mitch Mutter.
The Emergency Medicine Director, Dr. Jim Creel, is the SWAT Surgeon for the Chattanooga area. See Tactical Medicine under Program Highlights.
Physicians trained in Wilderness Medicine are better positioned and equipped to deal with issues that may arise while traveling in third world countries. In addition to being familiar with indigenous diseases and causative agents, having the improvisational skills often comes in handy.