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A First Responder Changes the Conversation about Mental Health

By Jared Apperson on 5/25/17 1:17 PM

Editor’s note: Jared Apperson is a longtime NOLS Wilderness Medicine instructor and former flight paramedic. Here, he talks about the psychological challenges of working in emergency medicine and his mission to raise awareness of post traumatic stress for first responders.

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Topics: first aid, wilderness medicine, NOLS Wilderness Medicine, psychological first aid

The 5 Components of Psychological First Aid

By Laura McGladrey on 5/22/17 8:17 AM

Editor’s note: Adapted from the Spring 2017 issue of The Leader under the title “Psychological First Aid Toolkit—What’s in Yours?”

The common image of a first responder is someone with a snappy set of gloves smoothly bandaging a spurting wound or administering an EpiPen to a patient having an anaphylactic reaction. Injuries, we imagine, are easy to see and easy to fix.

While treating physical wounds seems like the most important way a first responder can help a patient, there’s a lot that we can do to care for a patient’s mental health, especially during and right after a traumatic event.

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Topics: first aid, wilderness medicine, NOLS Wilderness Medicine, psychological first aid

Rescue at Goblin Valley State Park

By Shelli Johnson on 5/10/17 6:21 AM

Editor’s note: Shelli Johnson and her family were on vacation in Utah’s Goblin Valley State Park when they found themselves first responders on the scene after a girl took a serious fall from a cliff (story here).

Here, Shelli writes about what it was like for her, her husband, and their three sons to be the first responders (Shelli took NOLS Brooks Range Backpacking - Prime and Wilderness First Responder courses).

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Topics: wilderness medicine, NOLS Wilderness Medicine

Prevent Minor Trail Injuries with Advice from NOLS Staff

By Molly Herber on 4/25/17 9:30 AM

Before my first NOLS course, I got a lot of advice. For example, my brother told me to “Remember that you always have a way to get warm and dry,” and gave plenty of advice on how to be a good teammate (mainly, don’t complain).

But a lot of the little things I had to learn on my own—like, for example, the fact that your scalp can get sunburned. Ouch.

To help you prepare for the little things (which, in the end, usually aren’t so little, especially when it comes to blisters or the flu), a group of experienced NOLSies shared some of their favorite advice to help you be as prepared as possible before hitting the trail.

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

10 Useful Wilderness Medicine Posts To Read Before Your Next Adventure

By Molly Herber on 3/2/17 10:38 AM

Before getting ready for any trip, it’s important to review your wilderness first aid skills.

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Topics: Expedition Prep, wilderness medicine, NOLS Wilderness Medicine

The Big Picture: How I Found My Grit on a Semester in Baja

By Sarah Buer on 1/25/17 8:20 AM
Photo courtesy of Tucker Cunningham.

Tell us a little about your course

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 15 students and 4 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).

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Topics: Semester, Baja, sea kayak, Baja Sea Kayaking, Live the Dream, NOLS semester, Gap Year, education, backcountry, NOLS Wilderness Medicine

ASL-Supported Course Fosters Inclusive Diversity and Growth

By Shari Leach on 9/6/16 8:20 AM

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.

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Topics: wfa, WFR, diversity and inclusion, Wilderness First Responder, wilderness medicine, Wilderness First Aid, education, NOLS Wilderness Medicine, Wilderness Medicine

Real Life Scenario: A Rescue at Ellison's Cave

By Allen Padgett on 8/26/16 8:00 AM

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.

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Topics: Alumni, wilderness medicine, NOLS Wilderness Medicine, Wilderness Medicine

Which Wilderness Medicine Course Is Right for You? [Infographic]

By Sarah Buer on 8/16/16 8:00 AM

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Topics: wilderness medicine, infographic, NOLS Wilderness Medicine, Wilderness Medicine

Bee Prepared: WFR Training Applied in Real Life

By Luiz Antônio Gambá on 8/9/16 9:00 AM

“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.

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Topics: Alumni, wilderness medicine, risk management, education, NOLS Wilderness Medicine, scenario, Wilderness Medicine

6 Reasons Wilderness First Aid Is for Everyone

By Sarah Buer on 7/29/16 1:35 PM

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).

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Topics: Alumni, wilderness medicine, education, backcountry, leadership, NOLS Wilderness Medicine, snowboarding, 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

7 Materials That Can Be Used To Improvise a Splint

By Sarah Buer on 7/18/16 12:49 PM

An important part of managing emergencies in the backcountry is coming up with first aid solutions using the supplies you have on hand. Knowing how to make a homemade, or improvised, splint to immobilize an injured arm, wrist, finger, or a suspected broken leg is a key wilderness first aid skill.

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Topics: wilderness medicine, education, backcountry, NOLS Wilderness Medicine, Wilderness Medicine

When Urban Environments Go Wild: Wilderness Medicine in the Aftermath of Disaster

By Sarah Buer on 7/5/16 9:41 AM

“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.

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Topics: Alumni, Behind the Scenes, wilderness medicine, risk management, education, wilderness, NOLS Wilderness Medicine

To Drink or Not to Drink?

By Tod Schimelpfenig on 6/21/16 9:22 AM

"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.

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Topics: wilderness medicine, education, NOLS Wilderness Medicine, Wilderness Medicine