With the events and questions surrounding GPSJoe's disappearance fresh in everyone's minds, many of us decided to take advantage of a wilderness first aid course offered through SOLO and conducted by CAMRA. The course is taught for 16 hours over two days, and includes both lecture and hands-on rescue labs. It covers several different topics, starting with the moment a victim is encountered, assessing and assisting the patient, and carrying out a rescue plan. Four separate quizzes are administered to assess knowledge gained.
A quick breakdown of some of the information covered:
- Precautions to take before assisting a victim
- Quickly surveying the scene and assessing the patient's injuries and needs
- The importance of taking a medical history and using SOAPnotes
- Correct methods of moving or lifting a patient
- Recognizing and treating for shock
- Assessing, splinting, and resetting various musculoskeletal injuries
- Managing possible spinal cord injuries, as well as clearing an uninjured spine
- Recognizing and treating hypothermia, frostbite, and heat-related injuries
- Treatment of bites and stings
- Caring for various soft-tissue injuries, such as lacerations, amputations, impaled objects, burns, blisters, and more
- Effective bandaging techniques
- Some survival skills, including how to avoid a survival situation, and the main causes of accidents in the wilderness
Despite being only 16 hours long, I found the course to be quite thorough and now feel far more comfortable managing an emergency situation in the wilderness. The instructors were knowledgeable, passionate, and willing to help out or answer questions in any capacity. I'd recommend this course to anyone, whether an avid off-trail adventurer, a weekend Camelback warrior, climber, kayaker, hunter, etc. -- if you're consistently in the outdoors, this information could very well save your life or the life of another.
I know there were several other HAZers there (and if I failed to get your name, apologies in advance!). Someone said that although GPSJoe's situation was a tragedy, it was good to see that so many others were now taking the step to help reduce or prevent similar incidents in the future. I thoroughly enjoyed meeting everyone there, and sincerely hope that even more people will take this harsh lesson to heart and prepare themselves. An unfortunate situation can come about at any time, whether you consider yourself a novice or expert. So take what resources are available to you, and educate and help yourself.