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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 First Aid, Wilderness Medicine, Stories

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 First Aid, NOLS Wilderness Medicine, Wilderness Medicine, Wilderness Medicine Stories

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 First Aid, NOLS Wilderness Medicine, Wilderness Medicine, Illness and Injuries

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 First Aid, NOLS Wilderness Medicine, Wilderness Medicine

Why You Should Take a Wilderness First Aid Course

By Ben Lerman on Mar 21, 2019
Photo by Jared Steinman

You love the outdoors. The beauty. The adventure. The chance to unplug. The quality time with family and friends, or even by yourself. Whether you choose to explore the wilds by hiking, on the water, with a fishing rod in hand, or up a mountain road with your camper, the remoteness and rawness of it all is likely part of the appeal.

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Topics: First Aid, Wilderness First Aid, Wilderness Medicine

Quiz: Sprains, Strains, and Athletic Injuries

By Ben Lerman on Sep 26, 2018
 
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Topics: First Aid, Wilderness First Aid, Quizzes, Wilderness Medicine

Case Study: Finding a Sick Person High in the Mountains

By Tod Schimelpfenig on Aug 15, 2018
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 First Aid, altitude illness, Case Studies, Wilderness Medicine

Quiz: Managing Altitude Illness

By Ben Lerman on Aug 8, 2018
 
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Topics: First Aid, Wilderness First Aid, altitude illness, Quizzes, Wilderness Medicine

7 Fishing First Aid Hazards (and What to Do)

By Ben Lerman on Jul 18, 2018
Photo courtesy of NOLS Alaska

You’re enjoying a beautiful day at your local fishing spot. Fish are rising everywhere and you’ve hooked three big brook trout already. But your day can easily take a turn if you accidentally walk through a patch of poison oak. Or get stung by a wasp. Or slip on the rocky shore.

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Topics: First Aid, Wilderness First Aid, fishing, Wilderness Medicine, Illness and Injuries

Quiz: Treating Heat Illness and Dehydration

By Ben Lerman on Jun 13, 2018
 
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Topics: First Aid, Wilderness First Aid, NOLS Wilderness Medicine, Quizzes, Wilderness Medicine, heat illness

Stay or Go? Making Evacuation Decisions [Infographic]

By Aidalicia Swertfeger on Jun 11, 2018
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Topics: First Aid, Wilderness First Aid, infographic, Wilderness Medicine

Patient Assessment: Visualizing the Head-to-Toe Exam

By Tess Perrin on Apr 17, 2018
Photo by Lena Conlan

Editor’s note: NOLS’ Patient Assessment System is designed to be used by individuals with appropriate training. Only provide care within the scope of your training.

Imagine yourself kneeling beside a fallen hiker, deep in the wilderness. You aren't sure if they are sick or hurt, and you don't see anyone else around. It’ll be up to you to respond to this situation and assist this person who is clearly in need.

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Topics: patient assessment, First Aid, Wilderness First Aid, drawing, Wilderness Medicine

Using Your Wilderness Medicine Skills to Treat Pets

By Ben Lerman on Mar 21, 2018
Photo by Kirk Rasmussen

“Wound care is wound care, regardless of the type of mammal. I find that knowing the patient assessment system and other treatment principles is helpful, even with a dog. Pup has diarrhea? Palpate the abdomen to see if there’s specific tenderness. Dog is lethargic? Consider ‘ins and outs’ and if that’s affecting energy level.

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Topics: First Aid, Wilderness First Aid, Wilderness Medicine, Stories, Wilderness Medicine Stories

What to Do When You Hook Yourself: Removing a Fishhook

By Ben Lerman on Mar 14, 2018
Photo by Brad Christensen

It's the first fair-weather Saturday of the month. Most people are sleeping in—but not you. It’s time to fish!

Typically, you fish a barbless fly because you know it's easier to get the hook out of the fish’s mouth, but today you and your buddy are trying to catch your limit for a fish-fry later. You choose an obnoxiously large streamer with the biggest, nastiest, barb you have in your fly-box.

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Topics: First Aid, Wilderness First Aid, video, fishing, Wilderness Medicine, Illness and Injuries

Case Study: What to Do about Snakebites

By Tod Schimelpfenig on Feb 26, 2018

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: First Aid, Wilderness First Aid, Case Studies, Wilderness Medicine