An important part of preparing for emergencies in the backcountry is knowing how to improvise solutions when things go wrong.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