Photo by Brian Fabel.
You and three friends are hiking through a sandy wash in the desert. Even though it is fall, daytime high temperatures have been 100°F (37.7°C) with no clouds in the sky.
Your group encounters another party of two hikers, one of whom is lying on the ground under the only small juniper in the area. The other hiker seems worried. You ask if everything is ok. One hiker is fine but asks if you can help with the patient, who he worries is dehydrated or having a “heat stroke.”Read More
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. As you survey the scene and your patient, you realize you’ll have to gather information to help you determine how best to care for and transport them. To do this, you’ll use the Patient Assessment System to help inform your decision making and the first aid you will provide.Read More
“To my knowledge, none of the climbers I was with were formally trained in the way of wilderness medicine and with only a medical kit and no radio communication, I felt very out there. I knew that if anything went wrong or if someone needed help, we couldn’t do much of anything.”Read More
On a recent camping trip, I saw a group of young boys using sticks as swords, throwing rocks, and flinging algae from the tiny creek that ran adjacent to the campground—not ideal Leave No Trace behavior. I went over to their trip leaders and introduced myself as a naturalist and expressed my discomfort with what the boys were doing. I wasn't sure how the leaders would react—would they ignore me, a black woman, and let “boys be boys”? Instead, one of the leaders called the boys over and told them to have a seat because they were about to learn a lesson on stewardship.Read More
I've just exited the mountains: 12 days with rain and wind and existing trails turned into rivers. Any unmarked terrain had turned into swampy, waterlogged areas; boulder fields had turned into a Russian roulette for injuries; and the higher alpine areas were completely in fog. It was difficult to climb higher without losing orientation and visibility.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
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
I entered the Wilderness First Responder course nervous.
It was January, four months prior to my first season as a rafting guide on the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon for AzRA Discovery. The WFR certification through NOLS Wilderness Medicine would grant me the final two certifications I needed.
I was nervous for a couple reasons: my medical knowledge was limited to watching Grey's Anatomy on TV prior to the course, and I was unsure how I would be triggered or invalidated in my Queer identity through the nine-day course.Read More
As it says in the NOLS Wilderness Medicine handbook, “There’s no such thing as the perfect first aid kit, so you should consider your needs and build a kit that meets them.”Read More