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When Your Teammate Becomes Your Patient: My First Aid Training in Action

By Sarah Buer on 2/16/17 8:00 AM

Whether you’re deep in the mountains or just miles from town in your local park, wilderness medicine training can come in handy—and even save a life.

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Topics: wilderness medicine, WMI, backcountry, Wilderness Medicine

This Cold Bug Is Bugging Me: How to Handle Flu-Like Illness in the Backcountry

By Sarah Buer on 1/12/17 9:46 AM

Viral, flu-like illnesses like stomach bugs or viral upper respiratory infections (“the flu” or “a cold”) can be common on wilderness expeditions. While having a cold is never fun, being in the backcountry when the bug decides to bug you can make it that much worse.

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

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

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: education, wilderness medicine, Wilderness Medicine, WMI

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

Keep Calm and Medic On: How a WEMT Course Can Transform Your Backcountry Experience

By Hadley Warner on 4/19/16 8:05 AM

I had been considering taking a Wilderness Emergency Medical Technician (WEMT) course for almost three years, but something always came up to prevent it. In October of last year the idea finally became a reality and I found myself driving up a winding dirt road to the picturesque Wyss Wilderness Medicine Campus on a sunny fall afternoon. The course offered by WMI combines urban and wilderness medicine while preparing participants to sit for the National Registry exam. I was not sure what the next 25 days had in store for me, but I knew the course would serve me well in the future.

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Topics: education, Educators Notebook, instructor, leadership, NOLS Wilderness Medicine Institute, WEMT, wilderness medicine, WMI

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

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

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: education, leadership, Wilderness First Responder, wilderness medicine, Wilderness Medicine, WMI

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, leadership, NOLS Wilderness Medicine Institute, Tolerance for Adversity, wilderness medicine, Wilderness Medicine, WMI

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, backcountry, wilderness medicine, Wilderness Medicine, WMI

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

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

Future Outdoor Leaders Grow Using AmeriCorps Awards

By Molly Herber on 12/11/15 11:28 AM


An outdoor class during the WFR course. Photo courtesy of Opal Creek.

A dedicated crew of young adult AmeriCorps volunteers serving with Heart of Oregon Corps in Bend, Oregon spent the last six months building trails, restoring habitat, and reducing fire fuels on public land in central Oregon. Along the way, they developed valuable leadership and practical skills to help them pursue careers in conservation and stewardship. Many of the youth sought opportunities to broaden their skill set as their terms of service drew to a close.

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Topics: Alumni, AmeriCorps, Behind the Scenes, education, leadership, wilderness medicine, WMI

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