NOLS Wilderness First Aid Course

This past weekend several CORE members got the chance to participate in the NOLS Wilderness First Aid Course offered through REI. While not cheap, costing $225-$255 per seat depending on REI membership status, for the CORE Members that made it the training was money very well spent. While we had 6 members sign up only 4 were able to make it. In attendance, and now alums of the NOLS training were:

  • Andrew Taylor
  • Cherie Taylor
  • Mo Brethower
  • Sam L.

The 16-hour course was taught over a two day weekend. Taught at the picturesque Piscataway Park right on the Potomac across from Mount Vernon, the course was taught both inside the Visitor Center/Meeting Room and outside. The training was a mixture of classroom instruction on various topics and examples of dealing with simulated patients, our fellow classmates, as we learned the steps to best assess and handle various types of injuries and conditions that we may encounter in the backcountry.

What was most interesting about this course was its focus on dealing with these situations often in locations far from help. In our hobby we frequently find ourselves miles from the nearest paved road, often in wooded terrain (no heli support) and past terrain that would take people many hours or days to traverse on foot, and in terrain not traversable my normal rescue vehicles. Because of this, as some of us have seen on the trail, being able to handle injuries as they happen to those in our own group, or others recreating in the same areas, could literally be the difference between life and death.

Topics covered in the course included:

Patient Assessment
Emergency & Evacuation Plans
Spine Injury
Head Injury
Shock
Wilderness Wound Management
Musculoskeletal Injury
How to make various splints
Heat Illness
Cold Injury
Lightning
Altitude Sickness
Medical Conditions and Treatment
Anaphylaxis

Additional course information can be found here: https://www.nols.edu/en/coursefinder/courses/wilderness-first-aid-WFA/

Probably the most fun part of this course was that 1/3 of the time you were the patient, often covered in fake blood, acting the part of an injured climber or hiker or bird enthusiast! All four of us that attended the course would highly recommend it to others. We hope we never have to use what we learned, but we’ll be much better prepared if we find ourselves in those emergency medical situations again.


Photo Album: 08/26/17 Wilderness First Aid

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