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Case Study: Finding a Sick Person High in the Mountains

By Tod Schimelpfenig on 8/15/18 9:05 AM
Photo by Ashley Wise.
 

Recertify

The Setting

You are a Search and Rescue (SAR) volunteer working with a team to sweep a trail in the central Rocky Mountains in response to a vague cell phone report of an ill person somewhere on the trail. Eight miles from the trailhead at 8,800 ft. (2,680 m) you find the patient sitting on a log. After introducing yourselves, and with the patient's permission, you and the SAR team members begin an assessment.

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Topics: first aid, wilderness medicine, Wilderness First Aid, altitude illness, case study

Case Study: A Hot Day Becomes a First Aid Situation

By Tod Schimelpfenig on 6/25/18 3:23 PM


Photo by Ashley Wise

THE SETTING

You’re leading a canoe trip for a group on the Rio Grande River in Big Bend National Park in Texas. It’s been a hot trip, with temperatures well over 90°F (32°C) day after day. Today, the group started off with a long morning hike up a side canyon, and now you’ve been paddling for several hours, floating lazily along, watching birds swoop around the limestone cliffs.

Suddenly, your observations are interrupted by yells for help downstream. You paddle quickly to a beached canoe and several people on shore. One of your participants is shouting something about a seizure.

Another participant is lying on their back in the sand. Their legs are quivering, but their arms seem to be moving normally. The other participant insists this is a seizure—you’re not so sure.

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Topics: first aid, wilderness medicine, case study, heat illness

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.

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Topics: Lightning Safety, wilderness medicine, case study

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.

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Topics: wilderness medicine, Wilderness First Aid, case study

Case Study: Falling Through the Ice

By Tod Schimelpfenig on 1/24/18 9:08 AM

Editor’s Note: This case study is based on a real-life incident from the early 1980’s.

The Setting

You and three friends are on an early winter ski trip. To shorten the route, the group decides to cut across a lake, despite previously agreeing to avoid the lakes due to thin ice.

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Topics: wilderness medicine, case study, winter, NOLS Wilderness Medicine, hypothermia

Case Study: How to Manage Frostbite

By Tod Schimelpfenig on 12/14/17 10:49 AM

Editor’s Note: We developed this hypothetical scenario to represent a common and plausible situation on winter backcountry trips.

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Topics: wilderness medicine, case study, NOLS Wilderness Medicine, frostbite

Case Study: BASE Jumping Accident

By Jake Blackwelder on 10/24/17 9:13 AM

Editor’s note: This case study is based on a real-life incident responded to by NOLS Wilderness Medicine Instructor Jake Blackwelder.

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Topics: wilderness medicine, Wilderness First Aid, case study, NOLS Wilderness Medicine

Test Your Medical Skills: Scenario Near Yellowstone Park

By Sarah Buer on 7/26/16 9:03 AM

What would you do in this situation? Test your medical knowledge and decision-making skills with this scenario from Tod Schimelpfenig!

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Topics: wilderness medicine, case study, education, backcountry, leadership, NOLS Wilderness Medicine, Wilderness Medicine

Case Study: Anxiety or Cardiac Episode?

By Tod Schimelpfenig on 7/10/15 3:39 AM
Preparing to rappel. Photo by Jared Steinman.
 

The Setting

You're leading a team building day for a group of business people. Today's plan includes rappelling practice.

One participant, fearing the heights and exposure, is reluctant to participate. It took convincing from his co-workers to get him on the rappel over the cliff edge.

He is now 15 feet below the lip of cliff and looks awful. He's red, sweating, breathing hard, and says he is going to pass out. You engage the belay line to take control of his lowering, and try to get him to release the death grip he has on his brake line. This triggers drama: you hear swearing from below as he grabs the main line above his rappel device with both hands. Eventually he lets go and you lower him to the ground.

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Topics: wilderness medicine, WMI, Backpacking, case study, Wilderness Medicine, psychological first aid

Wilderness Medicine Case Study - Test Your Skills

By William Roth on 2/15/10 4:51 AM

The Setting - There you are, hiking with a companion through the San Juan Mountains in Colorado, when suddenly there appeared a rider on a pale horse galloping across a meadow. Your attempt to access a vague memory about pale horses passes into a focus on the beauty of the horse and rider which becomes a stumbling horse and airborne rider whose graceful flight ends in a tuck and roll as the horsewoman lands on her back, tumbles, stands and runs a few steps before finally collapsing in a heap.

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Topics: medicine, wfa, WFR, test, first aid, wilderness medicine, WMI, case study, first responder, practice, wilderness, backcountry, WEMT