Wilderness First Aid

The first thing to know about Wilderness First Aid is to read what I wrote on CPR/AED; First Aid; and Scene Safety. After reading those – remember that with Wilderness First Aid (WFA) you are probably at least an hour – more likely up to 4 – 8 hours away from modern medicine. Therefore, rescue and the time until rescue effects all aspects of WFA.

Having said that – let me do state that in Colorado – more than likely – no matter how remote the situation appears – probably you are no more than 30 minutes away from one of the various helicopter ambulances, including: Flight for Life, Air Life Denver, Med Evac, Memorial Star Transport., etc. This is an important fact to remember. Usually these helicopter services are in the air and they just need to be put on “stand-by” for your situation. Another fact important to remember is that even if the helicopter cannot land all that close to where you have a PT, the helicopter crew (including Flight Nurse, EMT-P, EMT, etc.) can hike to your location AFTER they have landed as close as possible to your location. When they hike to your PT – they will have with them O2, lifesaving drugs, ekg machine, life pack, and basically most of what an ambulance can provide. The point being – it is not how close they can get to you in order to get the PT out – more important is how close they can get to you in order to save your PT. AGAIN, in Colorado these medical helicopters can probably get within 30 – 45 minutes flying/ hiking time from your location. If you have a PT with a life threatening condition – this is possibly the most important information that I can teach you on this web page – the appropriate and lifesaving help is just a phone call away – but YOU HAVE TO MAKE THE CALL.

I used to sit on a committee that would review incidents that happened in the wilderness. Almost all of the people involved had taken a WFA course at some time and these “leaders” did an excellent job on injuries like broken wrist, broken arm, cuts, sprains, abrasions, etc. What I would call “routine” WFA injuries. Again, in reading the reports – the leaders usually did an excellent job. However, when it came to serious & life threatening injuries – frequently the well-meaning leaders put their PT in danger. Here are some examples:

EXAMPLE #1 – a hiker suddenly starts falling behind on the hike. Leader goes back and checks and sees that the hiker is sweating profusely. Upon questioning the hiker states that they have been “out of breath” for the last half hour (which is not normal). Then it becomes a contest to pull information out of the PT – does his/her chest hurt; pain radiating into his left/right arm/pressure on his/her chest – previous cardiac condition, etc. Usually the PT will not admit to these symptoms but after a while they will – in other words – if is quite possible that the PT is having an MI (heart attach) but does not realize it or want to admit it to themself. At that point, this PT should NOT TRY TO HIKE OUT. No more exercise. DO NOT LET THEM HIKE OUT EVEN IF THEY WANT TO. Call 911 for help and it does NOT matter that neither the leader nor anyone else sees anyplace for a helicopter to land – MAKE THE CALL ANYWAY. The folks on the 911 call are NOT the helicopter medical crew – they are probably the Sheriff’s Dept. REQUEST a helicopter rescue and explain the symptoms. Treat the PT just like you would if you were at the mall and had this situation. Position of comfort; monitor ABCs; 1st and 2nd assessment; aspirin if no contraindications; find out what medical professionals you have on your trip – who knows CPR, etc. Then WAIT to be rescued. If out of phone service – send hikers out according to procedures in WFA for rescue/call 911. In the incident I reviewed the leader had the PT walk out simply because PT said they thought they could. PT got about ½ way to the car and they had to call for the rescue because PT’s condition deteriorated. DAH – of course PT’s condition went downhill. PT lived but it could have gone the other way – just as easily.

EXAMPLE #2 – an elderly hiker falls while crossing a stream. PT has a record of cardiac incidents, including recent (within last 2 years). The leader DID NOT perform a head to toe – therefore did not discover that PT had numerous broken ribs. The pain from the ribs was “masked” by pain in his/her legs. Leader asked the PT if he/she could walk out – PT said yes – then let the PT walk several miles before PT stated that he/she could not go on. PT was rescued. In hospital it was discovered that PT had numerous broken ribs which punctured his/her lung – as he/she walked it moved into a tension hemopneumpneumothorax – which collapsed his/her lung and almost killed the PT. He/she was in intensive care for 9 days. The leader did NOT follow WFA protocol and perform a head to toe and feel PT’s ribs – the leader did not discover the PT’s ribs were broken . Thus, the leader made 2 incorrect decisions: he let the PT attempt to walk out based upon totally inaccurate medical information and he simply let the PT walk out because he/she, “said I could make it”. The leader almost got the PT killed.

This is why it is important to take a class or at least MY CLASS. The leaders in both incidents had taken a WFA class but the class had not reinforced appropriate protocols effectively. I usually start out my WFA classes describing these two (true) incidents in order to prepare students that the procedures and protocols should be learned, practiced, and used in a real incident.

Cost / Please Find the Standard Rates Below:

  • 1-2 Students: CPR/AED: $35; 1st AID: $60 = $95 per student
  • 3- 5 students (15% discount): CPR/AED: $30; 1st Aid: $50 = $80 per student
  • 6- 8 students (25% discount): CPR/AED: $25; 1st Aid: $45 = $70 per student
  • No more than 8 students in a class.

I make House Calls – I will be happy to teach a class in your house or place of business. I have all the training materials necessary (DVD player; manikins; paperwork; bandages; splints; etc.) to conduct training just about anywhere. Therefore, I can set up a training session in the convenience of your house, bike shop, gym, etc. Further, since I am versatile, I can do the sessions over a couple of days at night or all day in order to fit your schedule.

Click Here to Contact Scott about Scheduling a Class

Accidents Happen, Know What to Do …

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