Got Your Helmet – Do You Know First Aid?

Post by blogger | September 15, 2006      

One thing you learn in first aid class is that any blow to the head that requires first aid should also be dealt with as a neck injury. Besides being another reason helmets are only part of the safety equation, this begs the question: just how exactly do you deal with a suspected neck injury?

If you know, good for you. If not, perhaps it’s time for a first aid course.

While quickie style Red Cross first aid teaching is better than nothing, and an advanced Red Cross first aid course is useful, in my opinion a true wilderness first aid program is the best thing for backcountry skiers who want to extend their backcountry safety program beyond helmets and knee pads. Most first aid training is based on the first minutes before your 911 call produces an ambulance. Wilderness first aid deals with “secondary aid” — the things you do to help a person for hours or even days after an injury.

We just enrolled our teenage son in one such course, a NOLS/WMI Widerness First Aid course hosted by the 10th Mountain Hut Association here in Colorado. They’ve got room for a few more folks so sign up for this one if you’ve got the urge, and they give courses all over the country. Info below from 10th Mountain:

The 10th Mountain Division Hut Association is offering a two-day Wilderness First Aid Course sponsored by the Wilderness Medicine Institute (WMI) of National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS)

This 16 hour, fast paced, hands-on, two-day course covers a wide range of wilderness medicine topics for people who travel in the outdoors. Whether spending time in the backcountry is your passion or your profession, you should never have to ask, “What do I do now?” On this course you will learn how to prepare for the unexpected. WMI’s curriculum is unique and includes many advanced topics that other programs leave out, such as dislocation reduction, focused spinal assessment and epinephrine administration. In just two days, you’ll have the knowledge, skills and ability to make sound decisions in emergency situations.

Date:s Sept 30th – Oct. 1st, 2006 at the Harry Gates Hut in central Colorado (Sat, Sun)

Cost: $220 includes lodging, instruction and certification through NOLS/WMI.

To register: Contact Scott at (970) 925-4554 or email him (email redacted).

Department of backcountry skiing first aid:
Last winter in my avalanche safety diatribes I harped on the fact that if you do rescue a live avalanche victim using your trusty beacon, you might still be in a world of trouble. Avalanches are incredibly violent and powerful. When you find a buried victim they may not just spit out the snow in their mouth, thank you, and start making jubilant powder turns. Instead it’s likely they’ll be at death’s door or even have that door closing behind them. Dealing with such requires training and plenty of it. This type of first aid course costs less than a beacon and shovel, yet is of equal importance in my book. But how many people who own an avalanche beacon have this type of training? I guess it’s our modern culture, we buy the technology and have this inherent faith that doing so is enough. I’ve been guilty of that. While I’ve had extensive first aid training over the years I sometimes let it lapse while I spend money and time messing around with things like my backcountry emergency radios, as if they’re a substitute for right action in the moments after an accident. Time for my own refresher course? Probably.


Please Enjoy A Few Suggested WildSnow Posts


2 Responses to “Got Your Helmet – Do You Know First Aid?”

  1. Terry Ackerman September 15th, 2006 8:43 am

    The NOLS/WMI course is very informative and well taught, but like a lot of things, if you don’t use it, you lose it. After a bit of sensory overload from the course, it’s very easy to forget the finer points and frequent reviews and possibly refreshers should be planned on.

  2. JohnHemlock September 18th, 2006 10:20 am

    I agree with Terry. I had a WFR 2 years ago and lost almost all of it within 6 months because of lack of practice. Recently I’ve gotten in a regular habit of practicing and it has made a huge difference.

  Your Comments

  Recent Posts

Facebook Twitter Email Instagram Youtube

WildSnow Twitter Feed


  • Blogroll & Links

  • Welcome to Louis (Lou) Dawson's backcountry skiing information & opinion website. Lou's passion for the past 50 years has been alpinism, climbing, mountaineering and skiing -- along with all manner of outdoor recreation. He has authored numerous books and articles about ski touring and is well known as the first person to ski down all 54 of Colorado's 14,000-foot peaks, otherwise known as the Fourteeners! Books and free ski touring news and information here.

    All material on this website is copyrighted, the name WildSnow is trademarked, permission required for reproduction (electronic or otherwise) and display on other websites. PLEASE SEE OUR COPYRIGHT and TRADEMARK INFORMATION.

    We include "affiliate sales" links with most of our blog posts. This means we receive a percentage of a sale if you click over from our site (at no cost to you). None of our affiliate commission links are direct relationships with specific gear companies or shopping carts, instead we remain removed by using a third party who manages all our affiliate sales and relationships. We also sell display "banner" advertising, in this case our relationships are closer to the companies who advertise, but our display advertising income is carefully separated financially and editorially from our blog content, over which we always maintain 100% editorial control -- we make this clear during every advertising deal we work out. Please also notice we do the occasional "sponsored" post, these are under similar financial arrangements as our banner advertising, only the banner or other type of reference to a company are included in the blog post, simply to show they provided financial support to and provide them with advertising in return. Unlike most other "sponsored content" you find on the internet, our sponsored posts are entirely under our editorial control and created by WildSnow specific writers.See our full disclosures here.

    Backcountry skiing is dangerous. You may be killed or severely injured if you do any form of ski mountaineering, skimo randonnee and randonnée skiing. The information and news on this website is intended only as general information. Due to human error and passing time, the information, text and images contained within this website may be inaccurate, false, or out-of-date. By using, reading or viewing the information provided on this website, you agree to absolve the owners of Wild Snow as well as content contributors of any liability for injuries or losses incurred while using such information. Furthermore, you agree to use any of this website's information, maps, photos, or binding mounting instructions templates at your own risk, and waive Wild Snow owners and contributors of liability for use of said items for ski touring or any other use.

    Switch To Mobile Version