Nobel Prize!

Nobel Prize!

Photo credit: Dimitrios Machairidis

Civil Society plays a crucial role in the politicians’ position towards nuclear weapons. Physicians, for example, have been active to raise their voice against the weapons of mass destruction since the 1980s, forming the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, IPPNW. Their statement is very simple: “Nuclear war would be the final epidemic. There would be no cure. Therefore prevention is the only meaningful medical response.” Still, during the Cold War, IPPNW represented by the two co-presidents Bernard Lown from the United States and the Russian Evgueni Chazov, were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1985. Although nuclear arsenals are still an imminent threat to our earth and its inhabitants, several treaties to ban nuclear tests, to shut nuclear test sites and production facilities could be reached. But the final goal must be to abolish nuclear weapons completely. Civil Society can help to reach this goal by influencing elections, becoming active and joining campaigns or international organizations like ICAN (International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons), a multi-professional organization that was launched by IPPNW in 2007.

Evika Karamangioli Monika Brodmann Maeder George Hatzimarkos Emmanouil Pikoulis – behind Sasa Ignjatijevic, Miljan Jovic

“The fact that ICAN was honored with the Peace Nobel Prize in 2017 is a wonderful recognition of its ongoing efforts,” MD and MME Monika Brodmann Maeder told Hollywood on the Potomac. She is a member of ICAN, the civil society organization that won the Nobel Peace Prize of 2017, and is head of Education and Wilderness Medicine at the Department of Emergency Medicine of the Bern University, Switzerland.  She attended the 7th international conference on “Management of Disaster Victims” at the island of Rhodes, Greece organized by the MSc “International Medicine – Health Crisis Management,” Department of Medicine and the MSc “Strategic Environmental, Disaster and Crisis Management Strategies,” Department of Geology & Geoenvironment of the National & Kapodistrian University of Athens, Greece and the Notfall Zentrum of the University of Bern Inselspital Emergency Centre, Switzerland.

Bernd Domres, Theomary Karamanis, Kyle Remick

Maeder was a member of the International Scientific Committee of the “Management of Disaster Victims” 7th international conference in Rhodes with other professors from European, US, South African, and Israeli universities, such as Bernd Domres Professor of Surgery from German Institute for Disaster Medicine, Kyle N. Remick (COL) from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and Theomary Karamanis, Senior Lecturer of Management Communication at Cornell University from USA, Morgan McMonagle, Vascular & trauma Surgeon, St.Mary’s Hospital from UK, Theodoros Kyprianou, Associate Professor of Medicine, SGUL Medical Program at University of Nicosia, Cyprus.

Emmanouil Pikoulis  & Bernd Dormes

“I was impressed by the huge enthusiasm and the efforts of the faculty of Medicine of the University of Athens that organized an excellent conference with four big mass casualty exercises. The selected scenarios were very well prepared, relevant and realistic. I am sure that all the participating organizations profited a lot and will be better prepared for similar situations – still hoping that the scenarios will never happen in reality!” said Maeder.

Monika Brodmann Maeder, Emmanouil Pikoulis and the team of the conference

The “Management of Disaster Victims” international conference included four scenarios of health crisis management: “Our objective is the training of emergency medicine services and disaster management in cases of both natural and man made disasters in close co-operation with the local and regional authorities where the exercises are taking place. This year in Rhodes the scenario included a case of mass casualty incident at a hospital emergency departments provoked by earthquake, multiple injuries management because of a terrorist attack in a cruise boat, management of multiple injuries after a major accident at an international airport, multiple injuries management due to blast and fire in a forest,” explained the Director of the MSc “International Medicine – Health Crisis Management” Emmanouil Pikoulis, Professor of Surgery at the Department of Medicine, of the National & Kapodistrian University of Athens (NKUA), Greece and Adjunct Professor of Surgery and at the Uniformed Services University Health Sciences (USUHS), Maryland, USA.”

Emmanouil Pikoulis, Kyle Remick and Petros Kouridakis

“In man made and natural disasters, the key problem that occurs is double fold: There are big numbers of patients but existing healthcare services cannot offer appropriate services. Triage is defined as an emergency procedure evaluating medically and prioritizing patient care based on severity of injuries and availability of resources. The scope is to provide the greatest good for the greatest number of patients. Triage decisions are tough and under high stress. The patient who seems to live longer has the priority on the treatment instead of the patient very severely injured whose expectancy of life seems to be very short. Their decisions can also be taken according to the means they dispose such as equipment, supplies, and personnel. Indicative example is the case of terrorist attacks during and after which the triage operation should be a monstrous battlefield to save lives with much less or even no means at all. In such difficult situation the most important is that the triage personnel keeps its cool mindedness,” remarked Pr. Emmanouil Pikoulis.

Triage after forest fire at Petaloudes Valley Rhodes

“As an emergency physician who has worked for many years in a large university hospital, the Inselspital in Bern, I am used to challenging and stressful situations. Before I started to work in the emergency department, I worked for the air rescue service in Switzerland and learned to be calm even in the most critical situations. As a medical educator, I am aware that getting nervous is often counterproductive. And as a mountaineer, I know that keeping a cool mind can save my life. But probably it is also due to my personality that I can switch very quickly and easily from one topic to another and still be very much concentrated on the prevailing topic. And I try to actively decide on my priorities,” admitted Monika who is able to handle several major projects at the same time.

Exercise terrorist attack at the Port

While Maeder was evaluating in Rhodes the triage performance of the students participating to the four health crisis exercises, the great news arrived. The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), the coalition of nonprofit organizations from all over the world, won the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize. The announcement spread a joyful enthusiasm among all the participants of the conference.

“The Nobel Peace Prize is one of the highest honors that can be awarded to individuals or organizations, and it is an immense privilege to receive it. It is also a sign for Civil Society and decision-makers that efforts of the honored organization are recognized. And it gives to all its members new strength to work even harder for the abolishment of nuclear weapons,” she remarked.

Professors of 7th Conference

The International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, IPPNW, was founded in 1980 by physicians from USA and the then Soviet Union in order to prevent the escalation of a nuclear war, raise the public awareness of the danger of nuclear weapons and annihilate them from our planet. Very quickly IPPNW became the world federation of doctors, physicians, medical students, health workers and concerned citizens from 64 countries. In 1985, the Cold War was dominating the international relations. Any risk of deterrence of the relations between Soviet Union and USA could provoke the use of the nuclear arsenals that both sides possessed. That year, 1985, IPPNW won the Peace Nobel Prize for its considerable service to mankind by spreading authoritative information and by creating an awareness of the catastrophic consequences of atomic warfare. In less than six years since 1985, the Cold War has ended, the Soviet Union was dissolved and USA and Russia downscaled their nuclear arsenals considerably. Today, three decades since the end of Cold War, the nuclear weapons remain a dangerous threat to world peace. In 2007, in Australia, IPPNW established ICAN, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, a coalition of nonprofit organizations from all over the world aiming to the implementation of the United Nations nuclear weapon ban treaty. Today, after a decade of fervent activism, ICAN, which includes 468 partners from 101 countries, won a landmark victory by an overwhelming majority.  The United Nations adopted the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, a global agreement to ban nuclear weapons.

Triage after forest fire at Petaloudes Valley Rhodes

“I am a former president of the Swiss chapter of IPPWN and former member of the International Board of Directors of IPPWN. In this position, I worked as a lobbyist during World Health Assemblies in Geneva and had the chance to be member of an international group of IPPNW representatives. We were invited in embassies in Geneva where we could talk with representatives of the nuclear power states and lobby for nuclear disarmament. Today I am always member of IPPWN and ICAN as well,” said Monika Brodmann Maeder about her involvement in the nuclear disarmament.

Awards are never enough for the expectations of activists, doctors, educators and researchers like Monika. While ICAN is receiving the Nobel Peace Award, Monika travels to Kathmandu, Nepal. “I will teach the helicopter rescue teams how to save lives and I will go climbing in Himalaya,” she told Hollywood on the Potomac.

Rescue Team exercise aircraft accident

Mountain climbing is her passion. Wherever she travels for work reasons, she enjoys discovering the grandeur and freedom of the mountains. “I had heard so many myths about Mount Olympus in Greece and I was very enthusiastic when I was invited for the first time, some years ago, to join the mountain medicine course in the Master’s Degree program of the International Medicine Health Crisis Management. On my third day in Greece, I had the chance to climb Mount Olympus and I was really happy. I enjoyed the easy climb and mostly the wonderful view to the Aegean sea from the Olympus summit.”