This post was written by Jeremy Robertson, an AO Staff Member, and participant in last week’s Wilderness First Responder course taught by NOLS Wilderness Medicine Institute.

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Recently, over a span of 10 days (May 28 – June 6), 30 new Wilderness First Responders (WFR) entered the outdoor world.  Adventure Outings hosted its yearly WFR course through the National Outdoor Leadership School’s Wilderness Mountain Institute (NOLS WMI) in Chico.  This 80-hour course takes students through many of the possible first aid situations and solutions that may arise in backcountry or wilderness situations.  Throughout the 10-day course, participants spend lots of time learning through scenarios where they practice treating “patients” as if they were truly out in the wilderness; they also get to practice their acting skills as students play the “patients”.  Along side the interactive experiential learning, students also spend classroom time taking in the knowledge and information needed to treat patients.

The WFR course starts day one with the learning of the procedure when approaching a patient of initial assessment, patient exam, vitals, etc.  As this is used on every patient, students get very familiar with the process as each scenario that follows allows them to practice.  Day two and three proceed into some of the life threatening issues/treatment, such as CPR, spinal/head/chest problems and movement of the patient out of the wilderness to urgent care.  Day four continues with musculoskeletal issues: fractures, disclocations and sprains/strains and also features a night session.  Day five focuses on temperature and elevation problems.  Day six is a day off, where you can get to know your other classmates better outside the course.  Day seven touches back on other issues regarding important life areas such as the heart, lungs, brain and abdomen.  Day eight and nine focus on bites, stings, allergens,etc. and includes an important and fun night scenario.  Day ten concludes with your practical and written exams or “celebrations of knowledge” as the instructors like to call them.

Overall, this course provides good information to help you be more prepared for wilderness and backcountry situations where immediate care is not accessible.  For anybody who is in the outdoor field or just an outdoor enthusiast, the Wilderness First Responder through WMI is a good idea.  It’s fun, informative and you meet some other great outdoor folk.  Anyone interested in certifying or re-certifying, can join WMI and AO to do so – we typically host the full course in late-May and the recertification in December.  Come join us for a fun, educational course that is important for anybody in the outdoors.

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