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A cross-sectional descriptive study of pre-hospital care providers’ training, knowledge and skills in austere environments emergency medicine in South Africa: a framework for a consensus statement for Wilderness Emergency Medicine.

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There is a lack of research into the resource capabilities and capacity for wilderness emergency medicine practice in South Africa (SA). This is despite SA having vast expanses of populated austere geography that remains difficult to access by conventional health care systems and the country increasingly becoming an attractive ecotourist destination. With increasing needs for skilled health care personnel to deal with medical emergencies in this environment, it is first necessary to determine the extent of the current resources present within SA. This research looked at the human resource potential to deal with medical emergencies in the wilderness emergency environment in SA. Chapter one considers the conceptual and contextual framework of this research in light of the above and a review of the available literature. Chapter two presents research from a study that determined the self-reported extent of training, knowledge and skills that capacitated Emergency Care Practitioners (ECP) registered with the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) when operating in the wilderness environment and when dealing with medical emergencies. Chapter three examines data gained from a survey conducted among emergency medicine specialists regarding the competency in knowledge, training and skills that are ideally required in the practice of wilderness emergency medicine (WEM). Chapter four compares the self-reported knowledge, training and skills of ECPs in the wilderness emergency environment, with what is suggested by emergency medicine specialists as the expected level of knowledge, training and skills for practice in this field. Chapter five presents a published editorial that highlights the potential value of this specialised WEM practice in resource-limited countries. This editorial suggests that proper wilderness emergency medicine training, knowledge and skills could perhaps be an alternative solution for frugal innovation for resource-limited pre-hospital and inhospital practice. There is a need for further training and skills uptake in WEM. Additionally, a local framework for a consensus statement on the practice of WEM needs to be established.


Masters Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban.