For those of you who aren’t sure what Wilderness First Aid really is, think of the standard first aid course and the first line you are taught,
You [point finger at a bystander] go call 911.
In an urban situation an ambulance can arrive in as little as five minutes.
Now, picture yourself in the wilderness, five miles in when you come upon someone who needs help. If there’s cell service, you might still be able to point to someone and ask them to call 911 but there’s no chance the ambulance will arrive in five minutes. A Wilderness First Aid (WFA) course will introduce techniques for stabilization and will give you creative ways to offer care when doing little and waiting for help may not be a viable option.
Did you know that it is National Preparedness Month? It is the perfect time to learn how to prepare for an emergency! In the weeks leading up to the Shoestring Adventures Wilderness First Aid Course and Backpacking Adventure (November 3-5), we’ll be shining a spotlight on fellow adventurers who have earned their Wilderness First Aid certificate or higher. This week, I’m sharing my story.
Level of Wilderness First Aid training:
Wilderness Advanced First Aid
Why I was inspired to get certified:
About six years ago I was working as the Residential Life Director for a traveling high school that was spending a semester in Cuenca, Ecuador. I was working on coordinating trips to some really remote areas such as the Ecuadorian Amazon and the Galapagos Islands and realized that my team wasn’t certified in first aid. I did some research and decided it was best for us to get certified in Wilderness Advanced First Aid so that we would be adequately prepared to administer first aid to students and staff on or off the trail. It took some work to find an instructor who could come to us but we ended up with a wonderful National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) and Wilderness Medicine Institute (WMI) instructor who came to Cuenca and taught the course in English.
Favorite part of the course:
I loved the interactive component. The instructor did a wonderful job of providing us with the tools to feel confident to act out scenarios and practice assessing the scene and administering first aid. Since we couldn’t venture far from the school we took the course in an urban setting. I did my recertification course two years later in a wilderness setting and the practical test on the last day involved rescuing someone from the Pacific Ocean. It was intimidating but awesome at the same time because it felt real.
Real world application:
After becoming certified in Ecuador I purchased a robust first aid kit that included many items I had learned about in the course. Though the kit was cumbersome while transferring from a plane, to a truck, and then to a canoe to get to a biodiversity station in the Amazon, I was happy I had it! I haven’t faced a serious emergency in the wilderness but I have definitely administered first aid to students, colleagues, and friends on trails around the world!
Have you earned your WFA or higher? Share your experience in the blog comments below and tag #wilderness1st to promote wilderness preparedness within your community!