Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Wilderness First Responder course completed

Every year, we start our paddling season by doing some training or an assessment. We do this in order to stay current as coaches and prepare ourselves for whatever might arise with students.

The dining hall at Camp Kandalore, where painted paddles represent campers who've completed a 30-day canoe trip.
Alec just returned from Camp Kandalore in Ontario, where he completed completed the WAFA to WFR Bridge course to complete his Wilderness First Responder (WFR) certification. The training was provided by Matt Howell of Wilderness Medical Associates, Director of Missinaibi Headwaters Outfitters, an adventure touring company in Chapleau, Ontario.

Matt Howell demonstrates methods of reducing a dislocated shoulder in the field.
Obtaining a WFR certification is required for most backcountry guides, and it's invaluable for anyone venturing into the wilderness for an extended trip. It focuses on how to assess and care for patients suffering from a wide range of medical and trauma issues in remote places where emergency services may be days or weeks away.

A litter made of canoe paddles, rope, camping gear and other available materials, designed to keep the patient's spine stable during an extraction over rough terrain.
As we posted when Alec took the Advanced Wilderness First Aid course last fall, the curriculum covers risk management and prevention as well as assessment and management/treatment. It does so through readings, discussions and plenty of scenarios. The Bridge course builds on the body of knowledge in the WAFA course and qualifies participants to treat a greater range of conditions.

A gruesome wound, artfully created with stage makeup, gravel and twigs.
It also emphasizes the risk/benefit considerations in every decision. For us, this is familiar territory. As paddlers and coaches, we are constantly assessing risks and rewards. Will running a particular drop be rewarding enough to be worth the risk? How great is that risk? And how serious are the consequences? And in rescues, we ask whether coming to the aid of one person puts others at risk. In wilderness medicine, rewarding is measured in terms of the patient's health. Will moving him increase his comfort or heighten the chance of injury to the patient, the rescuer and the group? Is the risk associated with administering pain medication worth the relief it provides?

Infant CPR is part of the WFR remit.
Wilderness Medical Associates calls the Wilderness First Responder course "the definitive wilderness course in medical training, leadership, and critical thinking for outdoor, low-resource, and remote professionals and leaders."As we've seen over the six years that we've participated in WMA courses, they are constantly updating the curriculum to reflect new research and current best practices. The courses are rigorous and the knowledge essential. We've already put what we've learned into practice on several occasions, and we've been very glad to have it.

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