Wilderness Emergency Medical Responder Class

By Joe Keyser

This winter, 16 team members completed the wilderness upgrade to CoCoSAR's Emergency Medical Responder course.
 
This is a hands-on 30-hour course that focuses on applying the medical skills we learned in the EMR course to a wilderness environment. The course tries to answer the question: What do you do when there is no 911 to call? When YOU are 911?
 
Students studied a wide variety of subjects, including patient assessment in the wilderness, environmental illness, musculoskeletal injuries, altered levels of consciousness and many others, with a focus on extended patient care and long difficult evacuations. Evacuation decisions, or how to tell "big sick" from "little sick" were a special focus. The class also spent several hours practicing making improvised splints, litters, and bandages out of tarps, trekking poles, and other items commonly in a backpack.
 
The class had students responding to multiple simulated wilderness medical emergencies. On the last day, the class participated in a simulated mass-casualty incident. This training tested the students' assessment and treatment skills as well as their management and communication skills.
 
Special thanks to: Walt Eichinger, Todd Rogers, John Banuelos, Larry Fong, John Venturino, Mike McMillan, David Hoyt, Laura Carmody and Jim Gay for their help proctoring the class.