Many countries offer regular courses in mountain medicine. The medical commissions (Medcom) of UIAA and ICAR, together with the International Society for Mountain Medicine (ISMM) established minimal requirements for a formal Diploma course in August 1997 (Interlaken, Switzerland). Many course organisers adopted these standards and the resulting Diploma in Mountain Medicine (DiMM) has become a widely respected qualification. The regulations have been updated to reflect developments in mountain medicine, ideas presented at meeting of course organisers in November 2018 and to ensure that the high standard of the DiMM is maintained. The member organisations approved the administrative group to change the regulations at their individual meetings in Kathmandu, Nepal (November 2018). The regulations become effective for new and re-approval applications from January 2019. They can be downloaded here.
New course organisers are encouraged to discuss with, and invite, members of the UIAA Medcom, ICAR Medcom or ISMM to observe their courses. For new courses, approval is for two years. When a course reapplies for approval, the organiser must provide information on the number of successful and unsuccessful candidates during the previous period and provide an external assessor site visit report. 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.
The Diploma in Mountain Medicine qualification can only be awarded to Health Care Professionals registered with a national professional regulatory body (Physicians, Paramedics, Nurses, etc.). The Diploma in Mountain Medicine cannot be awarded to basic life support personnel (EMT’s, First Responders, First Aid, etc.). Students in the final part of their course can start the course but must be registered prior to award of the full qualification. The course can be divided into different parts appropriate for the organizing country (e.g. summer, winter; basic, specialty etc.) but must include the foundational course syllabus to award a diploma.
This must have a minimal study time (lectures, workshops and practical work) of 120 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 complete and maintain a logbook to demonstrate continuing professional development.
DOWNLOAD: DIPLOMA IN MOUNTAIN MEDICINE REGULATIONS (January 2019)
Organisers of mountain medicine courses can apply to endorse their courses with the label of UIAA, ICAR and ISMM Diploma of Mountain Medicine by sending a standard application form and the course programme to Jason Williams at (JDWilliams@salud.unm.edu) .
Applications are to be English and a separate form is required for specialty modules. The administrative group will discuss the application and the course organiser will be notified of its decision. We will acknowledge receipt of the application within three weeks. We may ask for further details within one month. A definitive answer regarding registration of the course will be given within three months. The course may be approved, rejected with reason(s) or referred to the UIAA and ICAR medical commissions and the ISMM.
The courses are divided up into three sections: foundation 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 organises a mountain medicine course, and follows 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.
This course covers the basics from hypothermia and frostbite, navigation and survival techniques as well as summer and winter mountaineering techniques.
This course is designed for persons going on treks and expeditions with the anticipation that they will be providing medical support.
These courses are designed for Health Care Professionals who are (or are becoming) members of an organised rescue service. They should have been trained in Advanced Life Support (ALS) and be experienced in mountaineering to an appropriate standard. Curriculum A (Terrestrial Mountain Rescue Specialty Course Module) focuses on terrestrial mountain rescue. Curriculum B (Alpine Helicopter Rescue Specialty Course Module) focuses on air rescue operations in mountainous terrain and should at least attain the minimum standards and regulations of the region or nation. Instructional faculty of the Specialty Rescue Courses must have real-world mountain rescue patient care experience.
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.
Apply for Courses:
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. It will conduct its work by email and be 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).
The UIAA MedCom consists of David Hillebrandt; Urs Hefti; George Rodway; Rianne Van der Spek
The ICAR Medcom Team consists of John Ellerton, Jason Williams, Bruce Brink and David Watson and Oliver Reisten (Air Zermatt) who focuses on the specialty rescue modules.
The ISMM Team consists of Remco Berendsen and Hermann Brugger
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.
The International Society for Mountain Medicine (ISMM) was founded in 1985 by the medical commission of the UIAA. The Society aims to bring together physicians, scientists and allied professionals interested in mountain medicine, to encourage research on all aspects of mountains, mountain peoples and mountaineers, and to spread scientific and practical information about mountain medicine around the world.