Last weekend, February 8th and 9th, a group of 24 climbers prepared for the unexpected with an engaging, hands-on introduction to wilderness medicine, taught over two days in the urban jungle of Long Island City. Spoiler alert: If you like to take short trips relatively close to medical resources, enjoy weekend outdoor activities with your friends, or climb outdoors, this is a course for you.
The Wilderness First Aid course is an intense yet fun journey through the world of wilderness emergency care and is highly recommended for all outdoors people who are interested in a range of situations and how to handle them. In the sold-out February WFA class, young AMC members learned about evaluating and stabilizing a patient, how to move a patient, when rescue is necessary and when you can walk the patient out, how to improvise with materials at hand in the field– or in this case only with GriGri’s, webbing, cordelette and some dynamic rope to aid them. And these climbers got pretty creative.
AMC WFA course was taught by the intrepid Richard Dabal and Ethan Gracer who covered a 2-day, 16-hour course (8 hours/day, 9am to 5pm) with great care. They covered a full range of situations, from scrapes and blisters to life-threatening emergencies. In addition to wilderness medical care, Richard and Ethan helped participants learn accident scene management and how to communicate effectively with the outside world. (Or, how to give yourself the best odds that the rescue party turns up in the right place with the right equipment the first time.)
With a WFA class, you learn a lot in a short period of time, but not enough to make one an expert. What it does is provide participants with an overview of common wilderness first aid situations, teach you how to deal with the victims, and also how to prevent injuries (like avoiding lightning).
Climbers can not only get hurt from falling or something occurring on the trail, but also from something “normal” like having an unexpected allergic reaction to an energy bar. There’s a lot that could go wrong, and it pays to be prepared.
Ready to learn more? Join the next WFA class in May at Sterling Forest. Learn how creative you can be with items found in your pack, and leave with the knowledge that you are equipped with a great skill-set, on or off the crag. Sign up here.