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Having Fun with First Aid in the Wilderness

This semester I was able to get my Wilderness First Aid Certification funded by the College of Natural Resource’s Enrichment Fund. The class was held in Bryson City, North Carolina at the Nantahala Outdoor Center which is quite a remote area. This course really put the emphasis on the backcountry! The class lasted two days and covered a variety of emergency response scenarios and how to act in those scenarios.

The first class session we went over general first aid topics such as patient assessment, wound treatment, general sickness, trauma and dehydration. Throughout the morning we practiced small scenarios on how to treat specific conditions with partners we selected in the classroom. Before taking a break for lunch that day we did a scenario in which we had to diagnose our partner’s problem and provide aid. My scenario was a hiker on a trail had fallen and hurt their leg, a simple diagnosis and treatment.

Later that day we dove deeper into providing aid. The scenario given at the end of the day was that a hiker had rolled an ankle in a mountain biking incident. Being able to find and diagnose the injury was easy but providing aid was a bit tougher. Our instructors limited us to only being allowed to use what was in our backpacks. Unfortunately, I was carrying my school backpack which led to me using a notebook, sticks and my sweater to help stabilize the sprained ankle.

For the second day we covered environmental emergencies, survival skills and large injuries such as bone fractures, concussions, and spinal injuries. The final scenario played out that we came across a hiker on a trail that had a small cut on their head. At first the situation seemed pretty simple but after going through the patient assessment procedure it was determined that the hiker had fallen the night before and been concussed, leaving them overnight in the wilderness alone and without food. After further assessment, the patient was treated with wound care, given food, and evacuated from the sight with support to remove them from the situation and seek further aid.

This experience has provided me with useful skills on determining patient injuries and ways to provide aid to them. After taking the training certification, I have already begun planning a camping trip with a few friends where I will be able to use these skills if needed (hopefully I will not need to though).