Wilderness First Aid - critical skills for everyone

NORTH CREEK - Imagine taking a hike in the backcountry when a fellow hiker slips on a wet rock, falls, and comes up with a possibly fractured bone. It is important to know what to do to help ease the pain and make sure that person gets out of the woods safely.

This is a scenario that could produce a lot of anxiety for all concerned. The eight-hour Wilderness First Aid class presented at the Tannery Pond Community Center on Sunday, March 21 was very useful in preparing for these kinds of events. Instructor Rick Morse facilitated a very hands-on, interactive and practical training that provided plenty of information for all trainees. The class, which follows the standards of the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, had nine eager participants.

"It's been very helpful - I'll definitely be able to use this information," said Chuck Wilkison, one of the class participants.

The focus of the class was on what to do in the backcountry in terms of first aid, but it also contained an abundance of useful information for dealing with common first aid situations anywhere they may be encountered. The term "backcountry" refers to being more than an hour away from definitive medical care, as opposed to "frontcountry," which could be located on a ball-field, roadside, or backyard, for example. Each student in the class received a copy of the Wilderness First Aid Field Guide, a compact and valuable guide to first aid for everything from abdominal pain to cardiac arrest to insect bites and stings to waterborne diseases. Additionally, trainees earned a Wilderness First Aid card, which is good for three years and is recognized by the NYS DEC as fulfilling the first aid requirements for guides.

Participants operated in teams to work through different hands-on scenarios that could be encountered out in the backcountry, including snakebites, broken bones, concussion, bee stings, hypoglycemia, severe lacerations, etc. They used their own first aid kits and collaborated with others when the situation called for something different or creative.

Morse felt strongly about the importance of practicality.

"It's hands-on practice - you definitely get the most out of applied learning situations," he said.

This first training was available for Johnsburg Youth Commission TREKS volunteers, but additional courses this coming spring and summer will be open to others as well, according to Morse.

If interested in the TREKS program or additional training, contact Rick Morse at 494-4094 or morses2@gmail.com.

Thank you to the Tannery Pond Community Center for offering up the space for the class and also to the Johnsburg Rescue Squad for loaning its manikins for CPR practice.

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