Wilderness First Aid

Rescuer stabilizing patients head and neck in a medical simulation, Anchorage, Alaska.

Hey Folks,

The last 10 days have been pretty busy, as I’ve been doing the Wilderness First Responder course (note to self: don’t let your certifications lapse in the future).

One of the primary goals of the course is to teach participants basic life support in backcountry and wilderness settings.

Here my friend Lisa is holding her patient’s head stable to protect the patient (Jason) from spine injury.

Both hands on the head, holding it still and steady, are critical. You can see in this simulation Lisa, with help from her other rescuer, has the patient warm and dry in a sleeping bag, on a foam pad to help insulate him.

Jason was found lying in the pool you can see near his feet.

Lisa and Taylor did a safety drag, where the spine is immobilized and Jason was dragged out of the water, on to the pad, they cut his wet clothes off, rolled him onto his side, placed a sleeping bag under him, rolled him back down and zipped up the bag.

In no time at all, he was dry and warm.

That’s a HUGE deal, as any treatment in this situation is going to (in all probability) be a minimum of several hours, and hypothermia will most likely set in.

Hypothermia can affect people even when the ambient temperature is 65˚F (18.3˚ C) – so for someone with a possible major injury, lying flat on the ground for a short period of time even in mild weather can easily induce hypothermia.

Get the patient dry, off the ground, and in a bag.



One thought on “Wilderness First Aid

  1. Beth Lunsford

    I was looking through some of your ANWR photos & found this. Must have missed it last week. This is really good advice to give to people,Carl. As you know, SO MANY PEOPLE PANIC in a life or death situation & then can’t think of what they are to do. It is boring learning about it to most people, but it’s critical, especially in the backcountry, to know these things. You should put out a whole list of things! Just like something unexpected, like running into a bear or a moose,even. SO many times I’ve heard the first thing some people do is run when they surprise a bear! Wrong thing to do, as you know. A lot of people don’t know a moose can stomp you. There are so many safety issues you need to be aware of & I’m glad you brought this up. Hope people think of these things!!

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