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Case Study: A Hot Day Becomes a First Aid Situation

By Tod Schimelpfenig on 6/25/18 3:23 PM


Photo by Ashley Wise

THE SETTING

You’re leading a canoe trip for a group on the Rio Grande River in Big Bend National Park in Texas. It’s been a hot trip, with temperatures well over 90°F (32°C) day after day. Today, the group started off with a long morning hike up a side canyon, and now you’ve been paddling for several hours, floating lazily along, watching birds swoop around the limestone cliffs.

Suddenly, your observations are interrupted by yells for help downstream. You paddle quickly to a beached canoe and several people on shore. One of your participants is shouting something about a seizure.

Another participant is lying on their back in the sand. Their legs are quivering, but their arms seem to be moving normally. The other participant insists this is a seizure—you’re not so sure.

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Topics: first aid, wilderness medicine, case study, heat illness

Quiz: Treating Heat Illness and Dehydration

By Ben Lerman on 6/13/18 12:15 PM
 
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Topics: first aid, wilderness medicine, Wilderness First Aid, quiz, heat illness

Stay or Go? Making Evacuation Decisions [Infographic]

By Aidalicia Swertfeger on 6/11/18 8:54 AM
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Topics: wilderness medicine, Wilderness First Aid, infographic

Snakebites: Myth vs. Reality

By Ben Lerman on 6/4/18 11:40 AM

In the movies, snakes bite constantly, fly through the air to strike, and kill their victims almost instantly with their venomous bites. Those involved respond in all manner of ways, from trying to photograph and identify the snakes’ species in 2006’s Snakes on a Plane to cutting open the bite wound and attempting to suck out the poison in 2010’s True Grit. Needless to say, these sensationalized portrayals can be misleading.

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Topics: WFR, first aid, wilderness medicine, myth, snakebite

Shock: What Causes It and What To Do

By Ben Lerman on 5/31/18 8:41 AM


Photo by Mike Trewartha.

What is shock? It’s a term that gets used frequently in casual conversation to describe emotional reactions. It’s also a serious medical condition that can be difficult to recognize, and even harder to treat, in the wilderness context.

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

Quiz: Bites and Envenomation

By Ben Lerman on 5/8/18 8:17 AM
 
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Topics: first aid, wilderness medicine, quiz

Patient Assessment: Visualizing the Head-to-Toe Exam

By Tess Perrin on 4/17/18 8:33 AM

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.

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Topics: Wilderness First Responder, wilderness medicine, drawing

Case Study: Hiking through a Thunderstorm

By Tod Schimelpfenig on 4/11/18 9:07 AM


Photo by Jessie Long

The Setting

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.

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Topics: Lightning Safety, wilderness medicine, case study

Quiz: Handling Burns in the Outdoors

By Ben Lerman on 3/27/18 8:56 AM
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Topics: first aid, wilderness medicine, quiz

Using Your Wilderness Medicine Skills to Treat Pets

By Ben Lerman on 3/21/18 10:18 AM


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

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Topics: wilderness medicine, Wilderness First Aid

What to Do When You Hook Yourself: Removing a Fishhook

By Ben Lerman on 3/14/18 10:55 AM


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: wilderness medicine, Wilderness First Aid, fishing

Case Study: What to Do about Snakebites

By Tod Schimelpfenig on 2/26/18 12:22 PM

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: wilderness medicine, Wilderness First Aid, case study

Quiz: First Aid for Eyes, Ears, Nose, and Teeth

By Ben Lerman on 2/14/18 8:26 AM

 

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Topics: first aid, wilderness medicine, quiz

Lynn Hill on Mitigating Risk with Wilderness Medicine

By Jared Steinman on 2/8/18 7:51 AM

“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.”

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Topics: Behind the Scenes, Wilderness First Responder, wilderness medicine

Case Study: Falling Through the Ice

By Tod Schimelpfenig on 1/24/18 9:08 AM

Editor’s Note: This case study is based on a real-life incident from the early 1980’s.

The Setting

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.

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Topics: wilderness medicine, case study, winter, NOLS Wilderness Medicine, hypothermia