Scott and I really appreciated taking the Wilderness First Aid course from NOLS. This two-day, 16-hour course was jammed packed with information. What do you do when you’re out in a remote area and someone gets injured? (Honestly, I’d just call 911, but sometimes you’re not going to get cell service.)
We learned a lot about wound care, head and spinal injuries, ankle sprains, fracture management, dislocations, shock, cold- and heat-related injuries, etc. The biggest takeaway was the patient assessment system, which involves surveying the scene for immediate danger, the steps to take to determine the mechanism of injury, examining the patient, and determining whether you can provide patient care or need to evacuate. The class practiced the patient assessment over and over again, playing patient or the unwitting hiker stumbling upon an injured stranger.
We also followed this up with a CPR class managed by the American Heart Association. Unfortunately, this class wasn’t as informative as the former. While our instructor was awesome, this class had the feel of an employer-required course. If we could do it again, we would watch an online instruction video as CPR is really straightforward.
Overall, the NOLS course was great and if we could, we’d love to take the advanced Wilderness First Aid course, a 5-day course that focuses on long term patient care management in backcountry environments. That said, we’re a bit more prepared for the unexpected and feel we have some knowledge, skills, and ability to make better decisions in an emergency situation. Hopefully, we’ll never have to use it!