“Une courte interview avec Dr.Olivier Chambres” by Rosa Tigges

PromoTour2015The Conference Promo Tour has reached its halfway point. The crew have been busy promoting the 4th Annual Surfing Medicine Conference in towns and cities up and down the Pays Basque (France) coast. Next, they cross the border to Euskadi / El País Vasco (Spain).

The Conference kicks off this September in Anglet; whilst in the neighbourhood, the crew took the opportunity to catch up with Dr. Olivier Chambres, one of the speakers at the upcoming event. Dr. Chambres lives and works in Anglet as a Head and Neck surgeon; Ear, Nose, and Throat (ENT) MD; and as a Maxillofacial surgeon in the south west region in a practice in Bayonne.

So, let’s get to know the man behind the lecture!


Dr.Olivier Chambres and Pro Surfer Mick Fanning at Aviron Bayonnais (Rugby match) | Photo: Property of Olivier Chambres

Olivier is from the coast of the Les Landes region. He studied medicine in Bordeaux and Strasbourg. He is a real sportsman at heart and began surfing at 13 years of age. He also practices Pelotte, a traditional Basque sport, and he is coach of his sons’ rugby team at Anglet Olympique Rugby Club. He and a nursing colleague, also a surfer, formed the medical support team for Basque bull fights. They frequently encountered both blunt force and penetrating trauma injury. Wounds comparable to knife stabbings were not uncommon, often requiring emergency procedures directly on-site. This is how Olivier cut his teeth in pre-hospital response and subsequently graduated with a thesis on emergency medicine in bull fighting.

Surfing Medicine for Olivier means being able to combine professional work as a doctor with his main hobby, surfing. He is keen to share his knowledge and stoke about surfing medicine with colleagues and friends. The importance of surfing medicine in the southwest of France cannot be overstated. In Les Landes, due to the remoteness of some breaks, it is a must know topic. Many spots lay some 30-40km from appropriate medical treatment facilities. Sometimes the nearest ‘urban’ center is a small village that would typically have 500 inhabitants, and lots of spots are only accessible with prior authorisation to drive through the forest directly adjoining the coast; so, if something happens, it’s vital to know more about surfing medicine.

The Annual Surfing Medicine Conference provides delegates with specific, evidence-based information through lectures. In addition, you have the chance to practice surfing medicine in the “hands on” workshops. So, any established or budding surfing doctor can become more acquainted with the wide range of probable situations that can occur whilst surfing or at the beach, giving participants the confidence and capability to prevent adverse events or save lives of surfers and beach users within your own surf community.

OlivierChambresOlivier returned to the Basque country in 2005 following seven years in Strasbourg. The lack of waves were compensated for by skiing, also one of his favourite pastimes. Surfing fits perfectly in his daily routine, frequently squeezing in a dawn patrol before going to work. He is a doctor with the medical support team for the Big Wave Competition ‘La North’ in Hossegor, held annually in December and January.

During the summertime, he typically treats anything from two to ten injured surfers per week. In the winter the numbers fall back to one or two per month. The most common conditions Olivier sees in his day-to-day practice are skin injuries and bone fractures caused by boards (either own or others’ boards), fins, or rocks. Olivier also encounters skin cancer, external auditory canal exostosis (surfer’s ear), and sinus infections due to polluted water from the river Adour north of Anglet and Louhabia near Guethary.

It was a pleasure to speak with Dr. Chambres. He will lecture on common Maxillofacial Injuries in the Surf, how they are treated, and their prevention this September at Conference 2015. 

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