For various reasons, mostly long since superceded, I ended up qualifying as a doctor and gaining the Green Beret of the Royal Marines. I suppose this qualifies me as a trained killer twice over!
However, the combination has led me to get involved, professionally and for fun, in the physiological aspects of human survival, and caring for the medical problems arising from attempts to survive. If you take a look at my list of publications, you'll see a lot concerned with life in the cold, wet and nasty parts of the world, and one or two about warmer climes.
I admit responsibility, in the main, for the current European standards for lifejackets, which were written when I was Convenor of the European Standards (CEN) Working Group on lifejackets. I retain an ongoing interest in this area, and am Chairman of the corresponding BSI committees covering lifejackets, buoyancy aids, survival and immersion suits.
I have also been responsible for the UK National Immersion Incident Survey, which has been gathering data to try to predict better the likely survival times of people when they are immersed in water. So far, we have gathered over 1000 reports, making it by far the largest such body of data ever collected. If you are involved in the rescue of individuals from the water, then you are welcome to e-mail me to request a copy of the first full report on the survey.
For even stranger reasons, I have more recently been involved in a major study to ascertain the risks of head injury, and requirements for protection from such injuries, in those using small fast boats (SFBs), including rigid inflatable boats (RIBs). This has received some publicity in the boating press, and once again I am more than happy to provide advice by e-mail, whether you are a RIB user or the operator of a whole fleet. Suffice it to say here that the issues are very complex, and simply wearing the biggest, heaviest full-face helmet you can find, is definitely not the answer.
My most particular interest, though, is in research into the problems of cold injury. Many people know of frostbite, but non-freezing cold injury (sometimes known as trench or immersion foot) is less well-known. Veterans of the Second World War, the Korean War (particularly the Chosin Few, who survived the horrific conditions in Nov-Dec 1950 near the Chosin Reservoir), the Vietnam War, and most recently the Falklands Conflict all attest to the ravages of cold injury. Many of these veterans, to this day, suffer from the consequences. I am trying to discover why even sub-clinical cold injury may leave people with such devastating long-term consequences.
This work involves assessing the control of peripheral blood flow in the skin, using a laser Doppler rheometer (blood flow measurement system). There are some fascinating differences between normal and injured subjects, which my PhD thesis aims to describe and interpret. I am posting my thesis here as I construct it, although it will be some time before you will be able to read much of it.
Last updated 2 Oct 1998