New Centre for Antarctic, Remote and Maritime Medicine

New Centre for Antarctic, Remote and Maritime Medicine

Video transcript

Antarctica is a remote and extreme environment.

There’s only a single doctor on each Australian station to provide medical care over winter.

Chief Medical Officer Dr Jeff Ayton “In Antarctica we are isolated for nine months of the year and we’ve had to deal with anything from mental health issues right through to major trauma in isolation.”

The skills developed by Antarctic doctors will now be extended to other remote and regional areas through the Centre for Antarctic, Remote and Maritime Medicine (CARMM).

It will bring together a network of specialists to support healthcare in isolated communities.

Advanced telehealth systems will play a key role.

Chief Medical Officer Dr Jeff Ayton “We’ve got access to real time monitoring but also near real time and real time imaging coming through. Providing the necessary support 24/7 to the distant doctor and the community that they are serving.”

The Centre will also provide accredited training and education pathways for generalist health practitioners.

Chief Medical Officer Dr Jeff Ayton “CARMM has been a long time coming and this is fantastic and an amazing opportunity to bring together for Tasmania and Australia, a cold climate academic centre of excellence which will deliver health care, training, education and research and innovation well into the future.”

CARMM is a partnership between the Australian and Tasmanian Governments and the University of Tasmania.

[end transcript]

Expeditioners in Antarctica
Expeditioners in Antarctica (Photo: Dominic Hall)
A medevac at Australia's Davis research stationAustralia's icebreaker, Aurora Australis, in the Southern OceanAustralia's Mawson research station in AntarcticaChief Medical Officer, Dr Jeff Ayton, and another doctor viewing an Antarctic medical procedure remotely via a telemedicine monitor

Highly specialised medical skills honed in the extreme Antarctic environment will be shared through a new Centre for Antarctic, Remote and Maritime Medicine (CARMM) in Hobart.

CARMM is a partnership between the Australian and Tasmanian Governments and the University of Tasmania.

It will draw on expert knowledge developed by the Australian Antarctic Program to inform medical care providers in other remote and maritime settings across Australia.

The Chief Medical Officer of the Polar Medicine Unit, Dr Jeff Ayton, said his team has developed a unique remote healthcare system over decades.

“Our doctors provide support for expeditioners up to 5500 kilometres away on Australian Antarctic stations and on ships plying the Southern Ocean,” Dr Ayton said.

“We use advanced telehealth systems for remote diagnosis and treatment of patients, for example we are able to monitor the vital signs of an ill expeditioner from back here in Hobart.

“We also have a well-established support network of specialists in Tasmania and around the country to support healthcare delivery.

“CARMM will bring all this acquired knowledge together to help provide highly specialised care in other isolated and extreme environments, such as off-shore islands and remote communities.”

Professor Ben Canny from the University of Tasmania said, through the College of Health and Medicine, CARMM will provide accredited training and education pathways for generalist health practitioners.

“This year we are starting a new Graduate Certificate in Healthcare in Remote and Extreme Environments, a one-stop shop to up-skill medical professionals for care-giving in remote areas.”

CARMM will be based at the Australian Antarctic Division in Hobart, the gateway city to East Antarctica.