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Ready for the Challenge: How I Became a Wilderness EMT

By Andy Burdin on 6/17/16 11:48 AM

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.

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Topics: Alumni, Wilderness EMT, wfa, WFR, Wilderness First Responder, wilderness medicine, Wilderness First Aid, education, WEMT, NOLS Wilderness Medicine, Wilderness Medicine

Beyond Limits and Proud: LGBT & NOLS Wilderness Medicine Experience

By Emily Ambrose on 6/9/16 9:17 AM

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.

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Topics: diversity and inclusion, Wilderness First Responder, wilderness medicine, LGBTQ, whitewater rafting, Wilderness Medicine

27 Considerations for a Wilderness First Aid Kit

By Sarah Buer on 6/3/16 8:52 AM

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.”

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Topics: Wilderness First Responder, first aid, wilderness medicine, WMI, Wilderness First Aid, education, First Aid Kit, NOLS Wilderness Medicine Institute, Wilderness Medicine

It's Getting Hot in Here: The Ps and Qs of Heat Illness

By Sarah Buer on 5/23/16 8:25 AM

Human beings are big bags of water.

No, really—just check this excerpt from NOLS Wilderness Medicine by Tod Schimelpfenig:

“We hear through a medium of water, the brain is cushioned by fluid, and the joints are lubricated by fluid. Blood is 90 percent water, and every biochemical reaction takes place in a medium of water." (p. 253)

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Topics: wilderness medicine, WMI, education, Wilderness Medicine

Self-Care in the Backcountry: Red Flags You Shouldn't Ignore

By Sarah Buer on 4/28/16 2:15 PM

“Walk it off.”

“Toughen up!”

“Rub some dirt on it.”

“Get over it.”

Have you ever heard one of these phrases? Chances are you have, and it may have shaped the way you think of “minor” discomforts.

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Topics: wilderness medicine, WMI, video, education, NOLS Wilderness Medicine Institute, Wilderness Medicine

Smart Ways to Protect Yourself from the Sun

By Sarah Zimmerman on 4/15/16 12:17 PM
Photo by Kirk Rasmussen.

Since spring has arrived, many of us will or already have gotten caught outside unprepared for the sun’s harshness. After last weekend, I came back to the office and several people were either a little bit pink or a couple shades darker. This got me thinking: How much do I really know about sun protection?

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Topics: wilderness medicine, WMI, Backpacking, adventure, backcountry, paddling, Wilderness Medicine

NOLS in Solidarity with the Bomberos of Honduras

By Kevin Wilson on 4/13/16 8:34 AM

NOLS instructors partner with Honduran firefighters to expand medical training in areas with limited resources.

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Topics: wilderness medicine, WMI, instructors, education, backcountry, NOLS Wilderness Medicine Institute, Wilderness Medicine

WMI Employee to Wilderness First Responder

By Sarah Buer on 4/5/16 11:29 AM
Photo by Teddy Kelley.
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Topics: Wilderness First Responder, wilderness medicine, WMI, education, leadership, Wilderness Medicine

The Adventure Rolls On: Thriving through Adversity with Eric Thompson

By Sarah Buer on 3/25/16 9:45 AM
Photo courtesy of Eric Thompson.
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Topics: Alumni, Tolerance for Adversity, wilderness medicine, WMI, leadership, NOLS Wilderness Medicine Institute, Wilderness Medicine

15 Signs You've Taken a Wilderness Medicine Course

By Sarah Buer on 3/11/16 1:40 PM

Whether it's a two-day Wilderness First Aid training or a month-long Wilderness EMT, courses with NOLS Wilderness Medicine are life-changing. That’s the point, right—to increase your awareness and preparedness for emergencies to happen?

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Topics: Alumni, wilderness medicine, WMI, backcountry, Wilderness Medicine

The Cold Truth: Debunking Hypothermia Myths

By Sarah Buer on 3/2/16 10:14 AM

Get your facts straight with these five common myths about hypothermia (and the truths of the matter according to Tod Schimelpfenig, NOLS Wilderness Medicine Curriculum Director!):

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Topics: wilderness medicine, WMI, risk management, video, Wilderness Medicine

Using Wilderness Medicine Training as a Recipe for Decision-Making

By Tod Schimelpfenig on 1/14/16 2:00 PM

One of NOLS founder Paul Petzoldt’s endearing habits was challenging students to explain their choices and the principles behind their decisions and techniques. He wouldn’t settle on one best way to do something; he sought the practical and effective way.

Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for students of first aid and pre-hospital medicine to be taught in absolutes; practices that supposedly work all the time, practices framed as being based on solid evidence but in reality often founded on bronze, not gold standard, science.

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Topics: wilderness medicine, WMI, leadership, NOLS Wilderness Medicine Institute, Wilderness Medicine

How Not to Get Frostbite

By Molly Herber on 12/9/15 11:11 AM

Winter is a time for all sorts of amazing activities—skiing, snowshoeing, curling—but cold weather brings its own special hazards.

Frostbite is one of the most common injuries you’ll see when it gets cold, so here’s how to avoid it according to the NOLS Wilderness Medicine Book.

Editor's Note: many of these principles are also helpful for avoiding hypothermia.

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Topics: winter camping, wilderness medicine, WMI, backcountry, leadership, Wilderness Medicine

Wilderness First Responder, in Cartoons

By Carmine Leighton on 10/28/15 2:00 PM

Wilderness First Responder graduate Carmine Leighton illustrated each day of a WFR course in cartoons!

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Topics: Alumni, wilderness medicine, Wilderness Medicine

Treating Burns in the Backcountry

By NOLS Blog on 9/4/15 8:00 AM

In the backcountry, it can be easy to get burned while holding a hot pan or pouring a hot drink. Small burns can be more annoying than dangerous, but they can still get infected, while more serious burns in delicate areas, like joints and the face, can cause long-term damage.

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Topics: first aid, wilderness medicine, WMI, risk management, Wilderness Medicine