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Trekking Holidays, Adventure Vacations Made Safer by New Website

Anyone planning an adventure holiday or trekking vacation involving high altitude needs to access good medical advice. Now they can do so via a new website.

The website was created by the School of Medicine at NUI Galway and launched on 27 Sept 2010.

High altitude is defined as any height between 8,000 ft and 12,000 ft (2,500 m to 3700 m). From 12,000 ft to 18,000 ft is defined as Very High and above 18,000 ft (5,500 m) is Extremely High. (Rick Curtis, Outdoor Action Program, Princeton University)

Adventure Travel Holidays are Becoming Popular

Adventure holidays and trekking vacations rarely reach extreme altitude although Himalayan adventures and treks to the Andes are becoming more and more popular. But the Rocky Mountain range of North America certainly falls within the Very High category, with its highest peak Colorado’s Mt. Elbert at 14,440 ft (4,401 m). In Europe the Alps reach similar elevations. Mont Blanc on the Italian-French border is the highest peak in the Alps at 4,810 m (15,782 ft).

Like the Himalayas, the Andes contain a number of peaks that fall into the Extremely High category. But for the person planning a holiday in a popular trekking destination altitudes of around 3,000 m or 10,000 ft are likely to be the highest reached. Not everyone will be aware that such altitudes fall into the High category and require appropriate preparation.

Information for People Planning Adventure Trips

The new website aims to offer adventurers, would-be adventurers and their health care professionals all the information they could possibly want in one easily accessed place. With sections on the history of altitude medicine, acclimatisation and the various forms of altitude sickness the site presents an abundance of facts about the medical risks associated with travel in high places.

An interesting feature is a video demonstrating the use of a portable hyperbaric chamber which was created by students of the school. There is also a section on Aviation Medicine which deals with subjects such as DVT, jet lag and medical emergencies in the air.

Making Trekking Vacations Safer

Dr Gerald Flaherty is a Senior Lecturer in Clinical Medicine and Medical Education at the university and was responsible for developing the website aided by medical students completing a special study module in High Altitude Medicine. “The highly specialised information required to travel safely to high altitude is often not accessible to travellers or their healthcare professionals. We identified a need for a non-commercial educational website which would … make such travel safer and more enjoyable,” Dr Flaherty says.

Dr Flaherty’s expertise in travel medicine is widely recognised. He believes the new website is an example of how the special study module programme at the School of Medicine in NUI Galway captures the imagination of students and the wider public. “The students learned a lot about teamwork, attention to detail, original scientific writing and responsibility from preparing material for our website, he explained. “These are all essential attributes for our medical doctors of the future.”