In addition to our 12 Trails of Christmas this holiday season, we are giving you bonus blog posts to accompany videos from our Ambassadors and Staff. Today Social Media Manager April gives us the top three take-a-ways she received from a wilderness first aid course.

Almost a year ago I pulled up my big girl pants and finally decided to take part in a Wilderness First Aid (WFA) course through the Wilderness Medicine Training Center.  I had a gut feeling from the beginning that it was not going to be “easy,” and moreover that I was going to be somewhat the odd one in the group (to which I was correct, but we’ll get to that later). I was an art professor who studied in photography and graphic design, and was not necessarily an extreme sports goer.

I hiked weekly, camped, backpacked, bouldered & rock climbed a dozen times in my life, and that’s about it.  However, I felt that this course whilst not being the full five to eight-day Wilderness First Aid Responder Course, would equip me with three days’ worth of valuable knowledge.

So here we go…a short list of my three WFA course take-a-ways/most memorable moments/top things learnt (and keep in mind this is coming from someone with ZERO prior medical/first aid training).

1 (Basic) + wilderness related first aid and CPR

After all this is what the course’s name implies, right? Well, we all know the importance of having some bandages, ointment, and pain meds while out on a trail but getting actual first-hand practice on a list of “what-ifs” and how to properly care for more than scrapes and cuts was to me, invaluable.  There was so much I didn’t know, but knowing now that I am far more prepared to care for gashes, large wounds, and create ligament-specific splints, has me much more confident in caring for myself or others while out.

CPR…I knew next to nothing about this prior to taking this course. The reason I’m throwing this in there is because, A. it’s a bit different performing CPR on your best friend VS. someone’s toddler in need and B. while practicing on those CPR dummies is the closest I hope I ever get to having to actually give chest compressions, it’s great training to get a feel for how much pressure needs to actually be given.

2. You may feel “out of place” among the extreme outdoor-goers, but you’re all there for the same purpose.  Utilize their knowledge to your advantage.

As mentioned above I was definitely the one who “fit in” the least.  I was fairly anxious going in the first day, but as the hours went by I realized that in this group of fifteen or so folks I didn’t know prior to that day, we were all in this together and there was no stupid question. I decided that taking a backseat was best for me. By listening to them share experiences and chime in with what the instructor was talking about, I learned two-fold. Not to mention, we were a group of strangers yes but would be working very closely with one-another over the next few days, and (most) everyone seemed to allow themselves out of their shell even if just for this time.  It made for a very genuine and comfortable course.

And…(drumroll please)

3. I can lay in feet of snow while it’s snowing (without proper gear) with fake blood strewn across my head for quite a while and not catch hypothermia!

Okay so this one’s kind of for fun but this was really no joke! I’m lucky enough to live in an area that gets all four seasons and during the time I took this course (literally the thick of our winter), there was no “light and fluffed up” version – we were going to be outside. A lot.  And we were going to get cold.  Of course, the instructor would never let it become dangerous but yes, we shivered – a lot, and (to our own benefit) wearing our expensive outdoor gear wasn’t suggested due to the cutting of clothes that would take place during our roleplays.  Bottom line, the human body is one tough cookie and we can handle much more than we seem to think we are capable of!

So if you’re thinking a WFA or WFR (Wilderness First Aid Responder) course would be a benefit to you, you’re probably right, take the plunge and go for it!

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