Wilderness First Aid Certification Trip

Exploration outings are safer than ever…

…after Friends of the Inyo’s road trip to our nearest Wilderness First Aid course!  Join us on this photo voyage through a weekend that prepared us for a summer of Stewardship and Exploration events.

I was initially hesitant about another First Aid course filled with rounds of CPR demonstrations on a rubber torso, and lots of sitting and listening to an instructor. But the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) took a different approach with simulated patients acting out real scenarios (one was even an overzealous birder, perfect for our bird festival!)  The course touched on common concerns in our desert and mountain areas including heat injuries, dehydration, altitude sickness, falling, and trauma in remote locations.

Julia with a broken armJulia sports the latest in “cravate” style while simulating a broken arm.  The next step involves a torso swathe to immobilize the arm for the painful hike out.

Chaotic Situations

Training outdoors on real people is a jarring experience.  Walking onto a scene with simulated injuries in a foreign situation initially threw us for a loop.  But after a couple of deep breaths, we reconsidered the situation at hand, ran through our procedural checklists, made our assessments, and decided on which actions to take.  After the 1st scenario the task felt hopeless, but after six throughout the weekend, we all felt comfortable helping, working together, and pulling our weight in a back country accident.

Alex first aid assessmentWendy examines Alex after a reported fall; while Julia carefully maintains a neutral spine.

NOLS armed us with multiple checklists and mnemonic devices that helped us remember how to go through a full head to toe assessment of a patient. This ensured that we would find all hidden injuries, or ask questions that would be help diagnose any underlying ailments.

People in first aid course

Our instructors gave us tasks and scenarios alongside traditional classroom instruction.  Our “patients” and instructors gauged our reactions to stress, and the tests piqued our interest in upcoming topics.  The whole weekend stretched our minds while keeping everyone awake (without supplying coffee) by getting us up, involved, and participating.

Nols instructor wrapping patient
Bonus points: Find Julia deep in thought =)

Overall we gained our certifications, and heightened our understanding of backcountry care.  We met new friends at other agencies like the Tahoe Rim Trail Association, Leave No Trace, and others. We hope to never have to use the skills on a Friends of the Inyo outing, but if anything happens we will be prepared!