Being prepared for the "What If’s"
At Alzar, we venture into remote settings. We ski and paddle and hike and as faculty and staff we often ask the question “What If?”. What if my friend trips over a rock on a hike and breaks their ankle? What if we get caught in a lightning storm while on a hike? What if someone goes into cardiac arrest? Wilderness medicine training is one step in learning to think about and be prepared to deal with the unexpected.
After returning to campus from our time in Chile , students spent 5 days before classes resumed participating in and ultimately becoming certified as Wilderness Advanced First Responders (WAFA). During WAFA students attended lectures on stings, bites, allergies, trauma injuries, and many other medical topics. Along with class lectures, everyone spent at least half of the days in simulations learning how to assess patients in a wilderness setting and then treat and evacuate them.
In simulations some students were patients and were given symptoms, a history, and possibly even fake bruises or lacerations for the the other students, the “responders” to treat. On our final day of the course, we were given a final scenario. Here’s what we were told:
A group was rafting down a river and flipped going over a waterfall. There are five patients, each with different problems. After being given this information ,students were challenged to go and assess, treat, and evacuate the patients. Some of the injuries, a broken ankle, for example, needed to be splinted. Others- non-breathing- needed CPR and also assessment for other injuries. One of the patients was hypothermic and ultimately needed to be put into a hypo-wrap and transported back to “base” (the barn on campus) with the help of the whole team.
It was a challenging, exhilarating, and rewarding experience for all of the participants here. On day 5, after completing the written exam and the river rafting scenario, everyone was awarded with official WAFA certification cards!