Wilderness Training Gets Community Members Prepared for Crisis

Taylor Holt
May 28, 2017 10:48 PM

Whether it's back packing through the backcountry, or just going on a day's hike, there's no warning sign for when an emergency will come up.

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"You never know what to expect," said Kris McNeal, Co-Owner of the Duluth Experience. "Considering we live in one of the best outdoor cities in America, everybody's outside people are hiking, kayaking, canoeing." 

So what do you do when that happens? It's a question a wilderness workshop, put on by the Duluth Experience and Longleaf Medicine, aims to answer.

"The big thing with 'Wilderness First Aid' and 'Wilderness First Responder' (courses) is in the wilderness setting you're an hour or more away from definitive medical care, and the big thing that differentiates it between basic first aid and CPR is that there is a lot of triage involved," said McNeal.

Sunday's course was focused on the first aid aspect teaching students everything from minor wound care to dealing with severe bleeding, and beyond.

"(Students are learning) Coming up on a scene making sure everything's safe for you to be there and then going through the basic steps to make sure that you have the basic life support in tact," added McNeal.

"We (also train for) hypothermia, heat injuries and lighting," said Mariah Christensen, Course instructor for LongLeaf Medicine.

Christensen says the unique training is not much different from the training our EMT's get.

"EMT's have a significantly larger amount of training but it's a lot of the same thing. (For example, what would you do in an emergency, how would decide when somebody needs to go to the hospital versus when this is something they can just fix out in the wilderness," she said.

However, it's not only a wilderness setting these skills can be used in. Christensen says it's training that crosses all lines.

"Even if they aren't going out into the wilderness, you can use it in a natural disaster. You can use it if your kids get sick," she added.  "We try to make sure anyone feel like they can come and learn some stuff and apply it to their everyday life."

The course are held at Hartley Park each year. They also offer first responder re-certifications. The Duluth Experience Website has more information on upcoming courses.


Taylor Holt

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