Monday, February 19, 2007

Wilderness First Aid

While everyone else was out enjoying the three day weekend, I was participating in a 27 hour wilderness first aid course led by the Wilderness Medicine Training Center (WMTC) and sponsored by Boise State University.

I decided to take the course as I and my friends spend a fair amount of time in the back country, often participating in somewhat dangerous activities - hiking, mountain biking, scrambling, etc. It has been over 20 years since my last first aid course, so it was about time for a refresher.

The Wilderness first aid course differs from a standard first aid course in that it requires greater improvisation, and removes the assumption that professional help will arrive within 1 hour. In the back country, professional help may not arrive for a day or more. A large part of the attention is paid on determining what type of evacuation priority is necessary or warranted for a given condition. Almost half of the three day class time was spent in simulations where we were forced to practice the proceduresand make critical decisions. It was a very effective format.

The Wilderness Medicine Training Center has in my opinion a very effective program for patient care. Assess the situation, provide critical life support, then stop, think, and plan. It was amazing how much difference this step made in our simulations. Documenting what the patient condition was, what it could turn into, what you had to monitor to know if it was digressing, and what the appropriate evacuation priority is for the condition. Once complete, you can continue by executing a plan - monitor, clean wounds,monitor,split, monitor, etc.

I would highly recommend the class, even on a three day weekend!

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