As many of you know, when I got back to the Black Hills from Greenland, Cheryl and I headed down to Leadville, CO for a Wilderness First Responder (aka - WFR ) course. We joined up with Nadia at Desert Mountain Medicine to teach us what is new and what we have forgotten since our last course.
Out of the 7 or 8 courses I have been part of, I'd have to rate Desert Mountain Medicine at the top of the heap of providers and much better then my NOLS/WMI experiences! The WFR class size was small enough that we all got great attention, and plenty of the hands on practice that makes these courses work so well and ensures you leave with both skills and knowledge. I'll admit, I'm a reluctant rescuer, but I feel good that I have put forth the effort to learn this stuff for the time when my adventures don't go as planned. If you spend enough time in the field doing some kinda crazy fun things like hiking, rock climbing, kayaking or mountain biking...chances are that sooner then later you will need some first aid skills.
The most earth shattering piece of info I picked up was that due to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan over the last decade, the medical folks have figured out that it is better to risk applying a tourniquet then having your friend or patient bleed out and die from a traumatic injury. This seems to make perfect sense, but for as long as I have gone to courses like this tourniquets were taught as a last and pretty much taboo option.
That line of thinking no doubt feeds into the change up in the CPR methods now promoted by the American Heart Assoc. We have always been taught to go A -airway, B - breathing, C - circulation as we deal with an unresponsive patient. They have now decided that getting that blood moving around and carrying oxygen to places like the brain that quickly die with out it..... is the most important thing you can achieve. So now they want you to start by compressing that chest to pump the patients blood. If you have not taken a CPR course lately, you owe it to yourself and your friends to get into one.
The coolest new toys the Naudia pulled out were the Homeostatic agents and bandages that have also come into existence from the wars. The active agents work to stop blood flow from trauma more quickly so that more drastic actions such as a tourniquet might not be needed. She recommended the impregnated bandages over the powders that were available because they are so much easier to use.
It's a great day here in the Black Hills to curl up with a book to read up on some medical training or search the web for a Wilderness First Responder (WFR) course near you or bone up on what you might need or want to know should the need arise. Be safe out there, and most of all have fun. One way or the other, our days are limited, so its my way of thinking that we might as well be having fun. If you are coming to Devils Tower or Custer State Park this summer give us a call and we'll get your crew set up for a day of rock climbing.