The courses complement the regular courses in mountain medicine in many countries. The medical commissions (Medcom) of UIAA and ICAR, together with the International Society for Mountain Medicine (ISMM) established minimal requirements for these courses in August 1997 (Interlaken, Switzerland). Many course organizers adopted these standards and the Diploma in Mountain Medicine (DiMM) has become a widely respected qualification.
The regulations have been updated to reflect developments in mountain medicine, internet communications and to ensure that the high standard of the DiMM is maintained. The member organizations approved the changes in the regulations on the 8 August 2010 at a joint meeting in Arequipa, Peru.
New course organisers are encouraged to discuss with, and/or invite, members of the UIAA Medcom, ICAR Medcom and ISMM to observe their courses. For new courses, approval is for two years. When a course reapplies for approved, the organiser must provide information on the number of successful and unsuccessful candidates during the previous period. Re-approval is for four years. The names of approved courses, their geographic location, main language and contact email address will be posted on the member organisations’ websites.
Courses can be organised for medical doctors (including medical students near graduation) and/or registered nurses or paramedics. Participants should be interested and/or experienced in mountaineering, and have current (< 5 years) training in basic life support. The course can be divided into different parts appropriate for the organizing country (e.g. summer, winter; basic, specialty etc.) but must include the common course syllabus to award a diploma.
This must have a minimal study time (lectures, workshops and practical work) of 100 hours. Course organisers can determine who can attend the course and the speciality offered. In addition, course organisers may seek University status for the course. All courses should have some form of valid theory assessment and demonstration of practical skill with a fail potential.
Candidates should be encouraged to complete and maintain a logbook to demonstrate continuing professional development.
The courses are divided up into three sections: basic course, course for trekking / expeditions and a specialty course for Mountain Emergency Medicine. The specialty course is designed for the training of emergency physicians and paramedics working in mountain rescue organisations. If your organisation or institution organise a mountain medicine course, and follow our minimum curricula, you can apply to our Approval Board the right to use the ISMM/UIAA/ICAR logos and award our Diploma.
The international syllabus covers altitude physiology and illness, expedition health, remote area trauma care, group psychology, travel medicine and also practical mountain skills. All holders have relevant skills and insight into the practical problems of delivering optimum patient care in the mountains.
Common Course in Mountain Medicine (100 hours):
This course covers the basics from hypothermia and frostbite, navigation and survival techniques as well as basic mountaineering techniques.
Specialty Course: Expedition and Wilderness Medicine (40 hours):
This course is designed for persons going on treks and expeditions with the anticipation that they will be providing medical support.
Specialty Course: Rescue (50 hours):
This course is designed for doctors (and if the course organiser wishes, registered nurses and paramedics) who are (or becoming) members of an organised rescue system. They should have been trained in Advanced Life Support and be experienced in mountaineering to an appropriate standard. Curriculum A focuses on medical aspects of terrestrial mountain rescue and is the prerequisite for the attainment of the Diploma. The Add-on Module ‘Air Rescue’(Curriculum B) is recommended for air rescue operations in mountainous terrain and should at least attain the minimum standards and regulations of the region or nation.
More than 3,500 doctors, nurses and paramedics have been trained in these courses until now. There are 23 different courses for mountain medicine throughout the world. If you are a doctor, paramedic or nurse who would like to take part in a mountain medicine course approved by the UIAA, please contact one of these institutions for details.
The administrative team is made up of representatives elected by the member organisations and their respective presidents. The minimum number of persons is three. The team conducts its work by email and is accountable to the member organisations.
A representative with a conflict of interest must inform other members of the team of the conflict. Decisions are made by consensus. The administrative team does not have the authority to alter the regulations. Its role is to approve courses by assessing the curriculum and assessment methods, and to keep a record of courses (so that enquiries can be directed to course organisers).
Organisers of mountain medicine courses can apply to endorse their courses with the labels of UIAA Medcom, ICAR Medcom and ISMM by sending a standard application form and the course programme to Dr David Hillebrandt or John Ellerton.
Applications should be made in English and a separate form is required for specialty modules.
The International Commission for Alpine Rescue ICAR was founded in 1948. ICAR is incorporated as an association under Swiss law, with its seat in Kloten, Switzerland. ICAR does not pursue any commercial purposes and is not profit oriented.