I’m in the middle of my third training in wilderness medicine. I’m what’s called a WFR, a Wilderness First Responder, and to keep my certification up to date I periodically have to re-certify. So while I’ve done this training before, wilderness medicine is an insanely broad and complex subject and there’s never a dull moment.
It’s anything but dull. So far in the world of fake injuries I’ve been stabbed, I’ve cut of my hand off with a chainsaw, and I’ve been wedged in the back seat of a wrecked pickup truck. We “train like it’s real” with loads of fake blood and bruises and patients screaming and trying to generally freak out the rescuers…and it really does feel real.
We do simulated scenarios that last anywhere from 5 minutes to 5 hours…and it can get pretty elaborate with tons of rescuers and patients in challenging locations and awful weather. We learn a lot of the normal first aid stuff you’d expect, and a bunch of first aid most people never have to think about, but we also learn how to behave in an emergency. How to manage things on our own and how to coordinate our efforts in a group.
Some times we have to protect our selves as rescuers, even if that means not treating our patients. Other times we have to choose to treat one patient instead of another and some times patients die…because some times people die. Actually, all people die…eventually. Something we are frequently reminded of.
I’m amazed at the amount of material we cover in eight days. Bleeding, breathing (or not), how to deal with spinal injuries and how to breath for people and how to splint injuries and clean wounds and coordinate evacuations. There are a million acronyms, from TBI and ICP to ROM and CSM…it is a WFR training after all :)
In the world of outdoor adventures, it’s mind boggling how many people lack any medical training what so ever. Most folks just run off common sense, and many do just fine…other of course aren’t so lucky.
If you’re someone who spends a lot of time in the wild…if “one mile from the parking lot” seems like nothing…then maybe think about that mile as a five hour evacuation for a person who can’t walk on their own. This is not a wild exaggeration either. And rather then thinking about a first aid kit maybe pack in some quality wilderness medical training.
Medical training is some of the lightest gear you can have, and if it saves a life or a limb then it’s probably worth the price don’t you think?
Besides, it’s just plain fun and awesome!