I first took the Wilderness First Responder course from Stonehearth Open Learning Opportunities, or SOLO, back in April of 2001 when I first started thinking about becoming a professional mountain guide. Today, along with 7 other Mountain Rescue Service fellow team members, a fellow guide, and a local ski-patroller, I concluded my 4th WFR re-certification.
Before any re-cert I’ve always had a little apprehension regarding whether this would be time well spent (outside of it being a job requirement to stay current). This year, just like 3 years ago, and 3 years before that, I leave amazed at how valuable these two days were. Unlike Wilderness Emergency Medical Technician’s (WEMT’s), who constantly use the skills they learned in their course while working for ambulance crews, or volunteer ski patrols in Tuckerman Ravine who get to practice splinting and laceration management on the bravest of Spring skiers, climbing guides don’t get to practice these skills often. That’s a good thing, as hurt clients are rarely repeat clients😉 But we do come across injured recreational climbers and get called out on rescues from time to time, so it is a bit obvious why we need to stay current.
But what about you? Should you take a Wilderness First Aid course? I can help you answer that quite easily. Just answer this one question:
Do you (or do you want to) spend time in the woods/mountains?
If you answered yes, then the answer to the first question is a big YES!
Even in an urban environment a little bit of knowledge can go a long way while waiting for an ambulance to arrive. In many cases it may make the difference between needing an ambulance (not cheap) or realizing the injury is stable and we can drive the person to the hospital ourselves. If you’ve ever witnessed an injury you may have stood by watching helplessly… what should we do? It can be a very long 10 minutes for the ambulance to get there… if you are in the mountains it’s even worse, help is hours away!
Simply put, 2 days + $160 tuition could save a life. Or save a leg. Or prevent an infection. Or eliminate the need for an outside rescue. Or make someone way more comfortable while waiting for outside help.
The benefits are huge, the drawbacks are nil.
If you can make it to the SOLO Campus in Conway, NH I recommend it as the learning environment and culture there adds something to the course but don’t let locality prevent you from taking a course. They are offered all over the US and with 111 courses scheduled from now to the end of the year you should be able to find one you can make it to! Use this link and then sort by state to see if there is one near you. It’s definitely a well spent two days!