Why Wilderness Medicine is Cool (and why you should take a class)
For years, my more 'educated' outdoorsfriends have been trying to persuade me to take my Wilderness First Responder (WFR) course. For years, I have balked.
Why? The reasons are three:
1. The classes are time-consuming and I don't have PTO (literally, none).
2. The classes are expensive and I don't make any money when I'm not at work (see above note about PTO and add in the fact that 3 months out of the year, I make $0.00).
3. I never thought I would actually use any of the information I would learn... I mean, how statistically likely am I to actually need to use First Aid in the outdoors? Hmm? Hmm?
Fast forward to Summer 2017 when several people I knew were put into situations where their medical training was called into play. After Andy's experience in the Sierra, I signed up for my Wilderness First Aid (WFA) and added on the bonus CPR class. It's no where near the level I would receive in a WFR course but I figured that, of all things, it would be a great foundation and would help me 'dip my toes' into the, to me, murky land of backcountry medicine.
After one day, and 12 hours of alternating between sitting-on-my-butt-in-a-classroom-while-my-friends-went-skiing and getting-dragged-around-on-wet-grass-in-the-rain, I found myself sponging up as much knowledge as I could. Backcountry medicine, as it turns out, is freaking cool. The amount of resources that we, as backcountry travelers, have at hand is incredible and that's what the WFA is all about. How can we, with a few VERY small additions to our pack, become competent aids in an emergency situation? How can we feel confident enough to start administering help to someone in need when we're miles or hours from the closest trailhead??
Seriously, this stuff is COOL.
I may be jumping the fun on this excitement train since I still have an entire 8-hour day of learning left but if this is what you learn in a WFA (and additional CPR course), I cannot even imagine how fantastic I would feel after taking a WFR.
Knowledge is the best. Know Before You Go applies to more situations that just those involving avalanches... it also applies to taking care of each other when no one else is around to help.