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
Photo by Jessie Long
You are hiking with a friend through the Uinta Mountains in Utah, heading toward an 11,600-foot pass. Dark gray clouds are building in the west, hinting at an approaching thunderstorm. You ignore them: your itinerary does not allow for delays. As you move quickly up and over the pass, you and your friend are exposed to gusty winds, deep low rumbles of thunder, and occasional spits of rain. You speed your pace. On the other side of the pass is a broad alpine meadow—there are two miles of grass and wildflowers between you and a low forested area.Read More
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. Reluctant to use an extremity? Try a usability test.” - Missy White, NOLS Instructor
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.Read More
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.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
Editor’s Note: This case study is based on a real-life incident from the early 1980’s.
You and three friends are on an early winter ski trip. To shorten the route, the group decides to cut across a lake, despite previously agreeing to avoid the lakes due to thin ice.Read More
During the first multiple casualty scenario of my WEMT course, my team responded to a simulated flash flood incident. When we arrived at the scene, we found 6 mock patients in a river in varying levels of distress. One was complaining of leg pain. We rolled up her pant leg to see blood and bone ends exposed (the makeup was pretty convincing!). The team immediately got started using the training we had been learning and practicing.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
You’re thinking about starting a new career. Your dream job might be working in the outdoors. Or fighting fires. Or in a hospital. Or maybe you want to instruct NOLS courses.
If you're looking to get into one of these fields, getting a wilderness medicine certification can help you get started.Read More