February 24, 2017

Friday Funny 02/24 (First Aid Knowledge)

Gus loves cat puns, he thinks they are funny!

So we, (mainly me), survived the NOLS Wilderness Advanced First Aid Course, and even though we've both had EMT training, we learned quite a bit.  There's a difference between patient care in urban settings, and wilderness settings. Mainly you're on your own, no 911, no screeching ambulance, no well-trained paramedic.

In attendance, we had two great instructors from out of town, and 26 students from Sitka, Juneau, Petersburg, Ketchikan, Wrangell, and Olympia WA.

No CPR needed!

We did have some odd CPR practice dummys. This is how they were described: Actar has a pale white head, with a blue cyanotic torso, and a cold black heart.

You attach the head to the torso, and put the round heart into the hole in the center. The heart has accordion folds that compress when you use your CPR technique on it. We also had CPR mouth guards to practice keeping body fluids to ones-self.

Getting instructions from Steve.

Steve demonstrating the "breastbone nuggie" on Bob, used to try to wake up an unresponsive patient.

Actar has a question.......  or does Brenda?

As part of the course, we received, the NOLS Wilderness Medicine, (6th ed), folder with NOLS info, course handouts, and the Wilderness First Aid pocket guide. 

All good resources. (We put a Denali Rose logo sticker on ours. 😀 )

Laminated for water-proofness. (Is that a word?)

We were encouraged to bring out own first aid packs, so that we could practice how easy/hard it was to use in an actual scenario. We brought the large one we used on multi-day kayak trips. We also used our packs to hold items that were supplied by NOLS for our outdoor medical scenarios.

Bags lined up, ready for the next outdoor medical emergency.

During the day, we would learn Patient Assessment, and medical practices, and then it would be announced, " get suited up, we're going outside for a scenario". Out would come the rain-pants, coats, boots, (a majority of Xtra-Tuffs, it's an Alaskan thing), hat, gloves, and tarp, or ground pad. If you were designated as a patient, the scene usually had you lying on the ground.

Annie, our other wonderful instructor.

Rapt attention, and note taking.

Steve explains....

Over the course of five days, as the patient, I had broken wrists, (I was an expert actor at this), broken clavicle, bruised rib, broken ankle, and horse-kicked in the kidney. As the medical care provider, I splinted arms, wrapped ribs, taped ankles, was supposed to diagnosis a diabetic in confusion, (didn't get that one, now I know), and a bunch of other ailments.

The first two days of class were rainy, so I didn't get any photos of us lying in the rain, and mud.

We're spread out, awaiting someone to care for us.

Asleep or hurt?

Mike is roll-playing a 13 year old girl who was kicked by a horse in the kidney, but won't admit it...

Then we gather to de-brief, and ask questions.

Added bonus, it's SUNNY outside.
Annie likes to use wound makeup, and she bruised me up. As part of the course, it's important to expose the injury, so it was good to have something that the student could find, and treat.

Clavicle bruise

Broken wrist.

How's that for a realistic horse kick?

One skill that I didn't foresee, or know that we were going to learn, was how to use a syringe.
(EEEEK, a hard one for me!) Steve was demonstrating the syringe, and had the man next to him expose his arm, and Steve plunged it in. OMGOSH, he didn't really do that did he!!!! Not only DID he do it, he expected us to do it too. I would have been better prepared, and not as queasy, if I had eaten breakfast that morning. I ended up using a sleeping mat instead of a real person. (FYI, I wasn't the only one using the mat.)

I did it! 
We ended the week on Friday with what Steve calls, "a celebration of knowledge". Which is instructor speak for we're taking tests. We did a written, and a scenario test. Bill and I did the scenario together, and passed our Patient Assessment with flying colors. (Trivia fact: Flying Colors is a nautical term for raising your flag showing that you have been victorious.)

A few of the students had to catch the afternoon flight home, so some of us, (and a few spouses), met at the Marine Bar and Pizza to decompress, eat pizza, and enjoy adult beverages.

Holly from Alaska Crossings, and Steve.

Holly and the staff at Alaska Crossings was the local organization that coordinated, and hosted the NOLS course. Thank you so much for providing this for us. We learned some valuable skills, enjoyed ourselves, and made some new friends. It's all a win-win.

For those who are Star Trek fans.
That one cracks me up, but this one is really more my style.

Would you like to take a course like this one? NOLS has 2 day, 5 day, and 10 day courses, as well as multi-week expeditions. They take place all over the world, even in Alaska.

Do you know CPR, or advanced First Aid?

Update: 15-Mar-2017 Follow-up post: First Aid Training, Knowledge, and Supplies


  1. I'm not sure how you managed to make a wilderness first aid course funny, but you did. Thanks for the laugh . . . and the excellent information!

    Stephanie @ SV CAMBRIA

    1. Thanks! I hope you get to take advantage of one of the NOLS courses sometime, they're excellent!

  2. Donna is guilty of obfuscating the true nature of the horseshoe bruise: it was really her retirement gift from the person in charge at the university for her 15 years of service.

    Having raised horses, I knew enough to quickly get close to any hoofed animal that is preparing to kick- reducing the probability of a tattoo...

    However, this strategy doesn't ameliorate the horse and sparrow approach of Trickle Down Management employed by our leader at the time: [Horse eats grain; much passes through to ground, where the sparrows can dine...]

  3. That sounds like a really comprehensive course! HOpe you never need to use the information.

    1. Yes, part of the "hope to never need" arsenal. Knowledge=Confidence.

  4. Sounds like a great course. It's a really good idea to bring your own first aid kits with you and see how they really work in an exercise.

    1. It was, until the carefully packed supplies had to go back into the stuff sack. I don't think it all went back in the same way. :-)

  5. I used to teach basic first aid for the Canadian Military Reserves and had to use this Actar dummies. They're not too bad and easier to clean up than the old CPR dummies. Although I haven't done that for years I still keep my basic first aid and CPR current through my job.

    1. When I went online to look at Actar dummies, I saw that they had disposable lungs that attach inside. That might have been helpful to see the lungs inflate. Good for you to keep up your skills, you never know when you might need them. Thanks for commenting.


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