NOLS Blog

Browse by Category

Patient Assessment: Visualizing the Head-to-Toe Exam

By Tess Perrin on 4/17/18 8:33 AM

Editor’s note: NOLS’ Patient Assessment System is designed to be used by individuals with appropriate training. Only provide care within the scope of your training.

Imagine yourself kneeling beside a fallen hiker, deep in the wilderness. You aren't sure if they are sick or hurt, and you don't see anyone else around. It’ll be up to you to respond to this situation and assist this person who is clearly in need. As you survey the scene and your patient, you realize you’ll have to gather information to help you determine how best to care for and transport them. To do this, you’ll use the Patient Assessment System to help inform your decision making and the first aid you will provide.

Read More

Topics: Wilderness First Responder, wilderness medicine, drawing

Case Study: Hiking through a Thunderstorm

By Tod Schimelpfenig on 4/11/18 9:07 AM


Photo by Jessie Long

The Setting

You are hiking with a friend through the Uinta Mountains in Utah, heading toward an 11,600-foot pass. Dark gray clouds are building in the west, hinting at an approaching thunderstorm. You ignore them: your itinerary does not allow for delays. As you move quickly up and over the pass, you and your friend are exposed to gusty winds, deep low rumbles of thunder, and occasional spits of rain. You speed your pace. On the other side of the pass is a broad alpine meadow—there are two miles of grass and wildflowers between you and a low forested area.

Read More

Topics: Lightning Safety, wilderness medicine, case study

Climbing for More Than the Summit

By Ben Lerman on 4/5/18 8:22 AM


Ahlqvist on an acclimatization climb in the Himalaya. Photo courtesy of Carina Ahlqvist.

“I am driven to do my part for a better world, not just reach the summit and get an adrenaline kick.”

Read More

Topics: Himalayan climbing, Behind the Scenes, Environmental Stewardship & Sustainability, mountaineering

The Good, the Bad, and the Beautiful: Why I Went Back to NOLS

By Elena Cabot Rodriguez on 4/3/18 9:11 AM

Photo courtesy of NOLS archives.
 

All my life my dad had preached the power of NOLS. The first summer he moved to the United States from Venezuela, he completed the four-week backpacking course in the Wind River Range.

Speaking little English, he cruised with his team through snowy mountain tops, only to be caught in a snowstorm at 8,000 feet with an instructor who had a leg injury. He still loves to talk about carrying the instructor up to a clearing and snuggling with him at night to prevent hypothermia.

“I’ve never done anything like it,” my dad told me.

“Cool, Papa,” I said for the thousandth time, tired of hearing about Wind River epics that seemed so foreign to me.

Read More

Topics: Semester in the Rockies, Live the Dream, leadership, Alaska backpacking

Quiz: Handling Burns in the Outdoors

By Ben Lerman on 3/27/18 8:56 AM
Read More

Topics: first aid, wilderness medicine, quiz

Why It’s Important for Teens to Learn Leadership

By Molly Herber on 3/22/18 9:12 AM


Photo by Ella Bruijn.

As our students hiked off, each in their own small group and following the routes they’d planned themselves, a knot twisted and untwisted in my stomach.

My instructor team and I had spent the previous three weeks backpacking with our students, all 16- and 17-year olds, handing off more decision-making responsibilities to them each day.

I’d seen them make responsible choices, and also learn from making their own mistakes (like taking the “shortcut” through the boulder field rather than the slightly longer but much easier walk around the lake). They were ready for the responsibility, but it was nerve-wracking to watch them go, even knowing we’d meet up again in just a few days.

Read More

Topics: teens, experiential education, leadership

Using Your Wilderness Medicine Skills to Treat Pets

By Ben Lerman on 3/21/18 10:18 AM


Photo by Kirk Rasmussen

“Wound care is wound care, regardless of the type of mammal. I find that knowing the patient assessment system and other treatment principles is helpful, even with a dog. Pup has diarrhea? Palpate the abdomen to see if there’s specific tenderness. Dog is lethargic? Consider ‘ins and outs’ and if that’s affecting energy level. Reluctant to use an extremity? Try a usability test.” - Missy White, NOLS Instructor

Read More

Topics: wilderness medicine, Wilderness First Aid

How to Convince Your Boss to Let You Take a NOLS Course

By Erica Nelson on 3/15/18 10:37 AM


Photo by Craig Muderlak

When I heard from NOLS’ staffing office that I’d been accepted on the River Instructor Course, I was beyond stoked. I ran to tell my boss the great news. Expecting her to be happy, instead she said, “We can’t afford to lose you this time of year.”

Read More

Topics: Expedition Prep, Live the Dream, leadership

What to Do When You Hook Yourself: Removing a Fishhook

By Ben Lerman on 3/14/18 10:55 AM


Photo by Brad Christensen.

It's the first fair-weather Saturday of the month. Most people are sleeping in—but not you. It’s time to fish!

Typically, you fish a barbless fly because you know it's easier to get the hook out of the fish’s mouth, but today you and your buddy are trying to catch your limit for a fish-fry later. You choose an obnoxiously large streamer with the biggest, nastiest, barb you have in your fly-box.

Read More

Topics: wilderness medicine, Wilderness First Aid, fishing

4 Strategies Leaders Use to Make Better Decisions

By Molly Herber on 3/7/18 10:06 AM


Photo by Betsy Winston.

Imagine this: You’re trying to figure out the best way to cross a river with your group of four friends. Even though you’ve crossed rivers on your own before, you’ve never led a group while doing it.

You’re wracking your brain trying to remember any acronyms that might help you, scrambling around the riverbank trying to guess the river’s speed, and weighing the equally strong temptations of “just going for it” and staying put, making camp, and coming back to the decision in the morning.

When you’re on the verge of total frustration, your friend shouts, “Hey, I found a log! Let’s use it to cross the river!”

Read More

Topics: decision making, Live the Dream, leadership

Case Study: What to Do about Snakebites

By Tod Schimelpfenig on 2/26/18 12:22 PM

The Setting

You and a friend have been rock climbing at the local limestone climbing area outside of Lander, Wyoming. While walking along the base of the cliff, your partner drops a piece of climbing gear and reaches to retrieve it. You hear a buzzing noise, a cry of surprise, and then your partner falls backward and tumbles down the sloped hill.

Read More

Topics: wilderness medicine, Wilderness First Aid, case study

Quiz: First Aid for Eyes, Ears, Nose, and Teeth

By Ben Lerman on 2/14/18 8:26 AM

 

Read More

Topics: first aid, wilderness medicine, quiz

Lessons from Escalante's Desert Canyons

By Erin Phillips on 2/13/18 8:33 AM

Stand still. The trees ahead and bushes beside you
Are not lost. Wherever you are is called Here,
And you must treat it as a powerful stranger,
Must ask permission to know it and be known.
The forest breathes. Listen. It answers,
I have made this place around you.
If you leave it, you may come back again, saying Here.
No two trees are the same to Raven.
No two branches are the same to Wren.
If what a tree or a bush does is lost on you,
You are surely lost. Stand still. The forest knows
Where you are. You must let it find you.

—David Wagoner

Read More

Topics: Semester, Semester in the Rockies, Live the Dream

Lynn Hill on Mitigating Risk with Wilderness Medicine

By Jared Steinman on 2/8/18 7:51 AM

“To my knowledge, none of the climbers I was with were formally trained in the way of wilderness medicine and with only a medical kit and no radio communication, I felt very out there. I knew that if anything went wrong or if someone needed help, we couldn’t do much of anything.”

Read More

Topics: Behind the Scenes, Wilderness First Responder, wilderness medicine

Sea Kayaking the Great Bear Rainforest

By Jonathan Brooks on 2/6/18 12:31 PM


Jonathan with bonsai island. Photo by Julie Bremner.

“This place is full of life on life on life!”

Read More

Topics: Sea Kayaking, British Columbia, Live the Dream