The Use of E-Learning in Medical Education for Mountain Rescuers Concerning Hypothermia
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OBJECTIVE: Victims of mountain accidents are often exposed to wet and cold environments which may increase the risk of hypothermia. Mountain rescuers should be able to recognize and manage hypothermia. We aimed to assess relevant knowledge in professional and volunteer mountain rescuers, as well as to evaluate the efficacy of an e-learning platform for continuing medical education. METHODS: An e-learning platform was developed to provide access to updated information about hypothermia. Volunteer and professional mountain rescuers participated in an e-learning course. Pretest, post-test, and specific lesson test scores were compared. After 1 year, a follow-up course was performed. RESULTS: In total, 187 rescuers, comprising 136 (72.7%) volunteers and 51 (27.3%) professionals, were enrolled. Ahead of the course, no difference in knowledge was found between professionals and volunteers. After the course, one's knowledge of hypothermia increased significantly (p < 0.001). The scores achieved in the field management of hypothermia were better among professional rescuers than among volunteer rescuers (p = 0.003), whereas in post-traumatic hypothermia half of the results were insufficient in both groups. Moreover, 57 rescuers repeated the course after 12 months. While professionals partially retained the achieved level of knowledge, the volunteers had dropped back to their initial level. CONCLUSIONS: The e-learning course increased the knowledge of hypothermia among mountain rescuers. The poor retention after 1 year indicates that the interval between lectures should be reduced. An e-learning platform is an effective tool for the medical education of mountain rescuers.