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There is a great number of skills and training that can assist in trip safety. Everything from: Navigation Courses, Avalanche Safety, Belay Training, and Leave No Trace Trainer Courses. These skills can all help ensure maximum comfort and safety on your next adventure.

One essential course that is beneficial for all adventure goers is a Wilderness First Aid course. As with many types of training there are several levels including: Wilderness First Aid, Wilderness First Responder, and Wilderness EMT. The appropriate level needed depends on what you intend on doing.

Why is Wilderness First Aid important? It teaches you the same essential life saving skills a basic first aid course would with an emphasis on how to put those skills into practice in remote settings. In the backcountry we don’t always have the resources we would in the front country (i.e. supplies, cell service, etc.)

In the backcountry we also face weather, terrain, and time issues. If a person becomes injured or ill in the backcountry, it could take hours, if not days to get them the help they need. While inclement weather and/or treacherous terrain play a huge role in longer evacuations, having training in Wilderness First Aid can make the difference in the overall outcome of the patient. Wilderness First Aid training provides tools necessary for patient assessment, and keeping them comfortable until help arrives or you’re able to get them out.

Additionally, you’ll learn how to properly treat blisters and burns as well as some great first aid kit suggestions like the ones below!

  • Replace items that have been depleted from use. Also replace expired items like ointments and over the counter medications.
  • Include a writing utensil and paper for recording vitals, patient information, directions, and other important incident information.
  • Consider adding items that are hard to improvise. Such as a syringe for irrigating wounds or gloves, in which a pair is needed for each patient.
  • Try to include items that serve multiple purposes like cloth bandages, medical tape, and cord. Those items can all be used in a multitude of incidents.

This is what prompted me to renew my cert almost a year early:

Yesterday our kids were out riding motorcycles in the neighbor’s backyard on the small motocross course they have set up. One of the neighbor boys, Marshall, overshot the tabletop and crashed, went over the handlebars, and landed on his head. Garrett knew I had first aid training and came home to get me. I rushed to the scene and held c-spine on Marshall until the paramedics arrived. Marshall was altered and barely breathing, in very serious condition. They had to airlift him out to Fairfax. Later the EMT thanked me – he said that when they arrived I had done everything right and had control of the scene. Funny thing is, despite being a little rusty it all came naturally.

Marshall is in the Pediatric ICU today. He has a lacerated liver and some bleeding on the brain. Last we heard he was scheduled for a CAT scan, but that there were no signs of brain damage.

Thanks for a great course. “It’s not your emergency” was key to keeping focused. Everything else seemed to happen naturally.


PS. All of the boys wear full gear, but sometimes it just doesn’t prevent injury. The motocross track is now slated for demolition per every mom in attendance. Marshall’s career motocross racing has also ended – he is officially retired, also per his mom.

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