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What I Wish I Knew Before I Was a Camp Counselor

By Colleen Kelley on Mar 23, 2020
Photo by Will Wamaru

Throwback to the sweet hot summer of 2015: The USA Women’s team won the World Cup, Taylor Swift’s 1989 was topping the charts (I sang every lyric to every song), and I was an energetic, sunburnt, 19-year-old working at a camp in West Virginia.

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Topics: wfa, WFR, Wilderness First Responder, first-aid, wilderness-medicine, Wilderness First Aid, stories

Getting Down to the Basics: Wilderness First Aid Quiz

By Colleen Kelley on Mar 12, 2020
 
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Topics: wfa, first-aid, wilderness-medicine, NOLS Wilderness Medicine, quiz

Stepping into Action: First Aid on the Appalachian Trail

By Kimberly Blazzard on Feb 27, 2020
Kimberly stops to examine her map on the Appalachian Trail. Photo courtesy of Kimberly Blazzard.

The young man lay there, shivering. The aluminum blanket his trip leader haphazardly tossed on him wasn’t helping him warm up from the rain storm. Why wasn’t his group paying attention to their friend? Why did his leader let him lie so far from the fire?

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Topics: first-aid, wilderness-medicine, Wilderness First Aid, NOLS Wilderness Medicine, wm-stories

Case Study: Ankle Injuries while Climbing

By Tod Schimelpfenig on Feb 24, 2020
Photo by Kyle Strachan

The Setting

You and your climbing partner are enjoying an exceptional climbing vacation. This morning your partner has the lead on the first pitch and is approximately 30 feet off the deck and 6 feet above his last piece of protection working over a roof.

At this point you notice him struggling with his foot placement and brace for a fall. He comes off the route and swings into the rock about 12 feet below his high point. His feet impacted first. He grabs his right ankle.

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Topics: first-aid, wilderness-medicine, case-study, NOLS Wilderness Medicine, wounds

Will My Heart Go On: Cardiovascular Wilderness Medicine

By Colleen Kelley on Feb 10, 2020
 
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Topics: first-aid, wilderness-medicine, NOLS Wilderness Medicine, quiz, Wilderness Medicine

Casting into Spring: Wilderness Medicine for Fly-Fishing

By Colleen Kelley on Jan 30, 2020
Photo courtesy of Oscar Manguy

If you’re in the northern hemisphere, you’ve probably noticed the sun setting a little bit later each day. As an avid fly-fisherman you might already be tying flies for the upcoming season. Even if you’ve never fly-fished before, NOLS Wilderness Medicine has advice for both beginners and experts so you can be prepared for the hobby’s common risks that are especially relevant in the early season. 

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Topics: first-aid, wilderness-medicine, fly fishing guide, fishing, NOLS Wilderness Medicine, spring, wounds

Case Study: A Freezing Snowmobile Ride

By Tod Schimelpfenig on Jan 20, 2020
Photo by Marcio Paes Barreto.

The Setting

You are searching, as part of your local SAR team, for an overdue snowmobiler. You know that the overdue person is a 62-year-old male with a history of risk factors for heart disease, but no actual heart attacks. He is described as an experienced snowmobiler and knowledgeable of the local trails. He planned a short ride this morning, due home by noon.

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Topics: first-aid, wilderness-medicine, case-study, NOLS Wilderness Medicine

A Can of Calm: Applying Wilderness Medicine in Disaster Zones

By NOLS on Dec 19, 2019
A ShelterBox tent lit up with solar lights on the island of Barbuda after hurricanes Irma and Maria devastated the Caribbean. Photo by Ned Morris.

NOLS Wilderness First Responder grad Ned Morris is a volunteer ShelterBox Response Team member (SRT). SRT members deploy to areas of natural disaster or conflict-based migration, and help families who have lost everything due to natural disaster or violence. ShelterBox provides shelter solutions, including tents or house repair kits, as well as water purification systems, solar lighting, cooking sets, and much more. There are just over 100 active Response Team members in the world; less than 40 in the U.S. Read the following Q&A to learn more about Ned's humanitarian work with ShelterBox and how his WFR helped prepare him for this role.

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Topics: Wilderness First Responder, first-aid, wilderness-medicine, NOLS Wilderness Medicine, wm-stories

Case Study: Cold Injuries on a Hike

By Tod Schimelpfenig on Dec 17, 2019
Photo by William Wamaru.

The Setting

You’re the trip leader for a group of teenagers on a nine-day backpack in the Bitterroot Mountains of Montana. The rivers are up and every crossing has been wet. A late spring snowstorm dropped several inches of new snow and brought cooler temperatures. 

You’ve encouraged daily foot checks, changing socks and staying as warm and as dry as possible—all relative to the reality of these conditions. At today’s midday rest break you realize no one has dry socks and one of the participants says his feet hurt.

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Topics: first-aid, wilderness-medicine, case-study, NOLS Wilderness Medicine

Thankful for Wilderness Medicine

By Audrey Goral on Nov 22, 2019
Audrey carrying her mother and her blistered feet across a river. Photo courtesy of Audrey Goral.

Preparing for Family Adventures

My mom and I go backpacking frequently in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Our typical playground is the western Sierras between Yosemite and Kings Canyon, ranging from quick weekend to two-week trips. We’ve also section hiked the John Muir Trail and hiked rim-to-rim-to-rim in the Grand Canyon.

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Topics: first-aid, wilderness-medicine, Wilderness First Aid, NOLS Wilderness Medicine, wounds

Wilderness Medicine and the Zombie Apocalypse

By Colleen Kelley on Oct 31, 2019
Illustration by Kayla Lopez

To get into the Halloween spirit, NOLS is exploring how wilderness medicine skills apply in an apocalyptic setting. You may be surprised to learn that you're prepared to survive the walking dead (and also to remove impaled objects when it’s not the end of the world)! Have a spooky, happy Halloween!

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Topics: Wilderness First Responder, first-aid, wilderness-medicine, fun, NOLS Wilderness Medicine

Case Study: Anaphylaxis in the Backcountry

By Tod Schimelpfenig on Oct 30, 2019

Photo courtesy of Deborah Sussex.
 

The Setting

You are hiking with a group of friends deep in a wilderness area. It’s lunch and everyone’s stomach is rumbling, but no one wants to stop long term.

Luckily, you have trail mix within arm’s reach. You feel comfortable passing it amongst your hungry group members because it doesn’t contain nuts.

However, soon after one of your friends becomes acutely ill. With a tingly and tight throat, your friend seems to be having an allergic reaction.

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

How Backpacking Sparked a Love for Wilderness Medicine

By Jack Johnson on Oct 9, 2019
Photo by Jack Johnson

Hiking to Head Injury

During the summer of 2017, when I was 14 years old, I took part in a 21-day NOLS backpacking course in the Bighorn Mountains of Wyoming. Just halfway through the course, I watched what (at the time) I considered to be an incredible feat of medicine. Another student on my course tripped and fell while walking across a burned-out section of forest and—under the heavy weight of his pack—hit his head on a rock. In the days that followed, I watched my two incredible instructors treat a possible concussion.

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Topics: Wilderness First Responder, first-aid, wilderness-medicine, NOLS Wilderness Medicine

Wilderness First Aid: 5 Steps of a Scene Size-up

By Tod Schimelpfenig on Aug 19, 2019
Photo by Jared Steinman

You’re out for a hike, enjoying a beautiful day in the mountains. Pausing to take a sip from your water bottle, you survey your surroundings—and suddenly notice the fallen hiker up ahead. You put your water bottle away and start walking toward the crumpled figure beside the trail.

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Topics: patient assessment, first-aid, wilderness-medicine, Wilderness First Aid, NOLS Wilderness Medicine

ABCs of Wilderness Medicine: The Initial Assessment

By Tod Schimelpfenig on Aug 19, 2019
NOLS Wilderness Medicine students participate in a hands-on scenario. Photo by Lena Conlan.

Your weekend adventure in the mountains takes an unexpected turn when you spot a fallen hiker beside the trail. Fortunately, after a brief moment of panic, your wilderness medicine training kicks in and you complete a thorough scene size-up.

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Topics: patient assessment, first-aid, wilderness-medicine, NOLS Wilderness Medicine