Got Your Helmet – Do You Know First Aid?


Post by WildSnow.com 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.



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Comments

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.

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