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Tod Schimelpfenig

Tod Schimelpfenig
As a NOLS Instructor since 1973 and a WEMT, volunteer EMT on ambulance and search and rescue squads since the 70s, Tod Schimelpfenig has extensive experience with wilderness risk management. He has used this valuable experience to conduct safety reviews as well as serve as the NOLS Risk Management Director for eight years, the NOLS Rocky Mountain Director for six years, and three years on the board of directors of the Wilderness Medical Society, where he received the WMS Warren Bowman Award for lifetime contribution to the field of wilderness medicine. Tod is the founder of the Wilderness Risk Manager’s Committee, has spoken at numerous conferences on pre-hospital and wilderness medicine, including the Australian National Conference on Risk Management in Outdoor Recreation, and has taught wilderness medicine around the world. He has written numerous articles on educational program, risk management and wilderness medicine topics, and currently reviews articles for the Journal of Wilderness and Environmental Medicine. Additionally, he is the author of NOLS Wilderness Medicine and co-author of Risk Management for Outdoor Leaders, as well as multiple articles regarding wilderness medicine. Tod is currently the Curriculum Director of NOLS Wilderness Medicine.

Recent Posts

Handwashing, Giardia and Old Tales

By Tod Schimelpfenig on 4/14/15 1:00 AM

There was once a time when we didn’t worry about wilderness water quality. We drank anything flowing clear and cold without disinfecting, and worried only about dark, murky water in the foothills. These halcyon days ended in 1976 when a tale circulated of backpackers in Utah who became ill with “beaver fever” caused by Giardia. The story was founded in an article in a medical journal, making it hard to ignore. We argued, but resistance was futile.

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Topics: wilderness medicine, WMI, backcountry

Are You Hypothermic, Or Just Cold and Grouchy?

By Tod Schimelpfenig on 4/6/15 1:00 AM

If you read the medical literature on hypothermia, it’s common to see a threshold for hypothermia at 95°F (35°C). The best I can figure is that this norm was described by British researchers in the 1960s.

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Topics: wilderness medicine, WMI, backcountry

Backyard Experiment: Armpits and Frozen Autoinjectors

By Tod Schimelpfenig on 3/30/15 12:00 AM

I recently exchanged emails with a fellow who asked if it was acceptable to freeze the auto-injector in his first aid kit. I told him of course not, you may not have time to thaw the medication. Now curious, I intentionally froze four expired EpiPens® on a minus 22ºF night and timed how long it took to thaw the autoinjectors in my armpit. This is what I found:

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Topics: wilderness medicine, WMI

3 Things that Drive Me Nuts in Wilderness Medicine Education

By Tod Schimelpfenig on 3/22/15 11:00 PM

What drives me nuts in wilderness medicine education?

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Topics: wilderness medicine, WMI, backcountry

Backcountry Decision-making

By Tod Schimelpfenig on 3/18/15 11:00 PM
WMI students engage in patient care. Photo by Brad Christensen
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Topics: outdoor, wilderness medicine, backcountry

Origins of Wilderness Medicine Programs

By Tod Schimelpfenig on 3/12/15 2:00 AM
Students learn how to utilize different kinds of litters in wilderness medicine on a NOLS course in the 1980s
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Topics: wilderness medicine

Medical Wilderness Adventure Race

By Tod Schimelpfenig on 2/18/09 7:49 AM

A Medical Wilderness Adventure Race (MedWar) combines wilderness medical challenges with adventure racing and was developed to give medical students, residents, health care professionals, and wilderness enthusiasts a practical, interactive, and enjoyable curriculum for learning wilderness medicine.

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Topics: wilderness medicine