The voluntary organisation that saves dozens of lives each year.
Altitude is a killer. Thin air has terrible effects on the human body and Everest climbers have always battled to function in this demanding environment. Many get sick. Some become fatally ill.
Luckily there is help at hand. The Himalayan Rescue Association is stationed in a tent at Base Camp to offer medical assistance.
This fantastic medical charity has been operating since the early 1970s, running a series of clinics and seasonal medical bays at key villages on the way to Everest and at Base Camp itself. Their patients are westerners and Sherpa climbers alike, coming for treatment for ailments as diverse as frostbite, pneumonia and high-altitude sickness.
Of the conditions the volunteer doctors deal with, HACE and HAPE are perhaps the most deadly. These are the two forms of altitude related sickness that climbers fear the most. Water on the brain and water on the lung.
Swift diagnosis and air evacuation to lower altitudes is the only real remedy.
Volunteering for the HRA is a demanding role. The medics are on standby twenty-fours hours a day and can be called on to deal with major traumas involving multiple casualties. In the last two years there have been tragic losses of life on the mountain. Two years ago an avalanche hit Sherpa climbers in the ice fall causing many deaths and injuries. Last year the Nepal Earthquake provoked a similar loss of life when an avalanche blast hit Base Camp. The HRA doctors found themselves at the centre of these events, working hard to save lives.
QUESTIONS FOR CLASS DISCUSSION:
1. Find out some more about the HRA online. What are the main objectives of the organisation?
2. Helicopters are increasingly used to evacuate climbers. How are they paid for? Can Everest climbers get insurance for this type of eventuality?
3. Thousands of trekkers go to Everest Base Camp each year. See if you can find out with online research what percentage actually make it!
Medical volunteers at the Himalayan Rescue Association tent at Everest Base Camp. © Matt Dickinson
A helicopter lands at Base Canp to transport a sick climber to hospital. © Matt Dickinson
The Himalayan Rescue Association has been saving lives on Everest since 1973. © Matt Dickinson
The volunteers at Everest Base Camp are amongst the world's foremost experts in the treatment of Acute Mountain Sickness. Between them they save dozens of lives each climbing season. © Matt Dickinson
Helicopters are used for medical evacuation when speed is of the essence. The only effective cure for Acute Mountain Sickness is to descend as fast as possible. A sick climber can be in hospital in Kathmandu within two hours if a helicopter is used. © Matt Dickinson
The Himalayan Rescue Assocation relies on donations to fund its operations. Why not get a school project going to raise some money for this very worthwhile cause? More information about the HRA is easy to find online. © Matt Dickinson