Thursday, May 7, 2009

WOOFER! (Wilderness First Responder)

Just outside Salmon, on the way to our base:

The Sawtooth Mountains, on the way to Salmon from Boise:

The past eight days have been crammed with Wilderness First Responder (WFR) training and it's been INTENSE! About half the time was spent absorbing an absurd amount of information on how to assess and handle backcountry emergencies from snakebites, hypothermia and anaphalctic shock to pregnancies, shattered femurs, drowning and head traumas. Then we spent the rest of the time out in the field acting out actual scenarios. The 'patients' got super realistic halloween-style makeup, fake gashes and bags of spurting blood. Every day after 9 hours of training, we'd assemble for dinner looking like a cast of extras from a zombie movie--pale skin, blue lips, dried blood in our ears and hair, bandaged heads, limps, festering blisters, racoon eyes, bruises, burns, etc. When we weren't acting as patients, we got to troop out into the hills with a first aid kit, tarp and sleeping bag to find and help the victims, who were either laying unconscious on the ground or staggering around helplessly. Even though it was all fake, it was suprisingly stressful... But we learned so much and improved so dramatically since the first scenario (which was a mess... I probably would've killed my patient if it was real life) that I feel confident enough enough in our skills and knowledge to get dropped out in the middle of this vast wilderness with anyone here. And as Wilderness First Responders, we're now qualified to be part of search-and-rescue teams, which is something I'd definitely be interested in trying out in the future.

treating a patient's foot:

carrying a rope litter that we made Me, Chris and Vito after a car-crash scenario:
Practicing hypo-wraps in the snow:

Yesterday was our final test (we all passed) and our last extended scenario. Each team had an Incident Commander, Triage Officer and Communications Officer (that was me!) and we all had backpacks full of gear because we had no idea what to expect. We didn't know hom many victims there would be or what would be wrong with them. This time it was a plane crash and one patient was already dead (code black!) and another died of head trauma while we were there. We had to construct litters from aspen saplings and tarps for three other patients and carry them a half-mile to the trailhead while maintaining their C-spine--which is way more tiring and stressful than you'd ever imagine. Our other extended scenario was a nightime one. It was freezing cold and raining when we left the base, and turned to freezing rain by the time we reached the field. From then on, it was absolutely insane. We were working by headlamp and the weather was out of control and our patients were screaming in pain and losing consciousness and real-life soaked to the bone (they'd been waiting in the woods for at least a half-hour before we arrived on the scene). It was crazy... but fun. I'm kinda sad that WFR is done--I could see myself doing the 2 month Wilderness EMT sometime in the future--but more good things are coming. Like our first real backcountry trip...

Other highlights of the past week or so...

Crossing woodtick creek:

Snow! (it's been snowing regularly here... but next week is supposed to get into the 70s again):

Building our new firepit:

tomorrow we're going to check out some waterfalls and hotsprings. Idaho rocks.


1 comment:

  1. Once again great pictures KoLoLo. Everything out there looks amazing and it sounds like you are having a great time. Keep the updates coming.