Dr Beth Healey

Emergency medicine doctor and research MD for the European Space Agency

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Emergency medicine doctor with experience in isolated and extreme environments

Beth is an Emergency Medicine doctor and has worked for several years in the NHS as well as a variety of international settings. Fluent in French, this has included providing pre-hospital medical care in the Swiss Alps.

As part of medical and logistical support teams she has worked in a number of extreme and remote environments including Svalbard, Siberia, Greenland and the North Pole.

As research MD for the European Space Agency (ESA) she overwintered in Antarctica at spaceflight analogue ‘Concordia’, otherwise know as ’White Mars’. There, she researched the effects of isolation and extreme environment on the physiology and psychology of the crew. During the winter due to the low temperatures (-80C) and long polar night (105 days without any sunlight) they were completely isolated even in case of emergency. This research has been used to help inform space agencies of the challenges future astronauts on long duration spaceflight missions may face as well as develop medical models required for such missions. She also participated on an overland traverse, driving a Caterpillar tractor 1,200 km across the Antarctic plateau. Since returning she has contributed to a Space and Global Health UN specialist interest group considering how we can use space derived technology to solve medical problems on earth including life support systems, telemedicine and remote diagnostics.

During the recent COVID19 pandemic she has drawn on her personal experience and research into isolation to share advice and coping strategies to help reduce anxiety during governmental lockdowns and self isolation.

Suggested Talks:

Coping with Isolation: The effects of self-isolation are taking their toll on our physical and mental health as we adapt to a new normal in how we live, interact and work. Having overwintered in Antarctica, where she researched the physiological and psychological effects of isolation on the overwinter crew, Beth has first-hand experience on coping with isolation and how to overcome the difficulties it presents. Her research has since been used to help inform space agencies of the challenges that future astronauts on long duration spaceflight missions may face, as well as develop medical models required for such missions. In this talk Beth draws on her experience and research into isolation, to share advice and coping strategies for use during the pandemic, and to help us thrive in self-isolation.

Transfer of Technology: Having worked across a range of areas, Beth feels passionately about sharing ideas and technological advancements between industries. She is currently part of a working group looking to see how we can use space technology to improve healthcare on earth, specifically developing healthcare systems where remote access to both specialists, diagnostics and training is transforming healthcare provision worldwide. Her research into the effects of isolation and extreme environment physiology in Antarctica has also been used to help inform space agencies of the challenges future astronauts may face on long duration spaceflight missions. In this talk Beth will explore how a fresh perspective and improved sharing of both ideas and failures can promote success across all industries.

High Performing Teams: From participating on an overland traverse, driving a Caterpillar tractor 1,200 km across the Antarctic plateau, to working as part of a prehospital medical team performing lifesaving roadside interventions in the Swiss Alps, Beth has experienced first-hand the importance of successful teamwork. In this talk Beth uses her experience to illustrate how to maximise optimal performance from your team in order to achieve success.

Climate Change: From her work in the polar regions, Beth has witnessed first-hand the effects of climate change. From time working in a local Inuit village hospital she has seen how hunters have had to adapt their hunting styles to chaining migration patterns of local animals their way of life. Following repeated visits to the same areas she has seen retreating glaciers and climates becoming increasingly unstable. She has also experienced more frequent encounters with polar bears as they take greater risks in search of food. In this talk Beth will share what she has witnessed, explore the impact of COVID-19 on climate change, and discuss developments in science and technology that will shape the future of sustainable living.

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