Before getting ready for any trip, it’s important to review your wilderness first aid skills.Read More
Three years ago as part of a gap year, I took part in a semester-long, eighty day NOLS course in Baja California.
This course consisted of fifteen students and four highly-trained instructors embarking on a 100-mile hike from San Juanico to Mulegé, a 120-nautical mile sail on the Sea of Cortez from Loreto to just about south of Puerto Agua Verde, and ending with a 250-mile sea kayaking journey from Puerto Agua Verde to a town called Tecalote. (I also received sixteen college credits for my course, ranging from wilderness first aid to Leave No Trace principles!)Read More
This course was by far the most diverse NOLS Wilderness Medicine course I've ever taught.
There was geographic diversity, with students from as far away as Slovakia, Puerto Rico and Florida, as well as those just a few miles down the road.Read More
Four experienced cavers were traversing Ellison’s Cave (one of the deepest caves in the lower 48 States) when, in the middle of the mountain, one of the party slipped and fell about 30 to 40 feet down a hole. When his buddies got no response after calling down to their friend, one left to get help while the other two stayed behind.Read More
“Bee stings cause more anaphylaxis than do the stings of any other insect. Multiple stings … can be life-threatening.” -NOLS Wilderness Medicine
My friend Pedro de Toledo Piza and I were riding on a trail access to Medicine Hill in Paraibuna, Brazil when we decided to leave our ATVs to hike up to a lookout.
On the walk back from the lookout, we were attacked by a large swarm of Africanized bees.
The buzz of the colony was deafening as we began to suffer stings all over our bodies. Knowing that Pedro was allergic to bees, I put myself in front of him in order to divert attention from the swarm—despite my efforts, the bees still seemed to have focused more on Pedro than me.Read More
I refused to wear anything other than dresses until I was 7 …and even then it was only because my family moved to a small country town in northeast Wyoming and I wanted to fit in.
I’ve been a “girly girl” my entire life, and I had no interest in playing in the backcountry until about three years ago when I transferred to a university in the Black Hills of South Dakota and was lured out by their beauty and the exercise (plus, I got invited to go hiking with an attractive guy who has now been my partner in all adventures and in life for the past three years).Read More
“Wilderness has no handrails, no telephones, and no simple solutions for complex emergency situations. It does have dangers. Some are obvious: rock fall, moving water, stormy weather, avalanches, crevasses, and wild animals. Others are subtle: impure water, dehydration, cold and damp weather, altitude illness, and human judgment.” -Tod Schimelpfenig, NOLS Wilderness Medicine
The importance of wilderness medicine knowledge and protocols in disaster zones is tenfold. When resources are depleted, emergency access is delayed, and safely functioning environments become austere, an urban setting ultimately transforms into a modern-day wilderness.Read More
"When you find yourself in an emergency situation, is it better to resort to drinking unfiltered and possibly contaminated water or drinking no water at all?"
It’s a question, or as we like to say at NOLS, a judgment call, of which is the greater risk: dehydration or waterborne illness.
If this is an emergency, you need your wits and your health; both deteriorate when you are dehydrated. You need to consider how well hydrated you were at the start of this emergency, how fast you are losing fluids, how hard you are working, and how long you expect to be without a reliable water source. Perhaps you have the experience and self-awareness to anticipate how long you can function without fluid intake.Read More
I found myself patient-side during an intensive and grueling scenario at the Wyss Wilderness Medicine Campus in Lander, Wyoming.
“Keep holding still, you’re doing great,” I told Anna. Our eyes met as I held her hand and she took panicked breaths through the non-rebreather that was pressed against her face, filling her lungs with oxygen. Bright red blood was beginning to seep through the large pressure dressing I was holding against her abdomen to cover the 6-inch laceration there. We needed to move, but the single, tunnel-like entrance to the mine was blocked by other screaming patients on backboards and teams of rescuers, with only their headlamps visible in the thick, chalky smoke.Read More