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Wilderness Medicine: Training to Provide the Best Care

Posted by Daniel Kikkert on December 15, 2015

0514151408a 2Part of my job at Evoke is to help staff manage the inherent physical risk that comes with an at risk population living in the backcountry. Mostly this risk looks like cuts and scrapes from hiking through brush, a burnt finger from a hot pan, or supporting a participant to stay hydrated on a long hike. That being said, you need to plan for the big risks as well, so you are ready and able if the time comes to deal with a challenging situation. Our field, logistics, and medical departments consist of well trained staff ranging in skill level from CPR/1st aid, wilderness first aid, and wilderness first responders, all the way to EMT’s, registered nurses, and doctors.

Part of being ready to manage a high risk situation is practicing the skills it takes to do so. Working with our Medical Coordinator, Adam Garrard, I put together a skills workshop and discussion followed by an in field scenario. Field Instructors had the opportunity to discuss medical issues, such as anaphylaxis, hypo and hyperglycemia, dehydration, and hypothermia. Adam did a presentation on the Patient Assessment System, and what it takes to do an accurate and effective assessment on a patient. We went over the necessary diagnosis info and treatment skills for treating trauma, such as splinting, head injuries, spine injuries, and shock. We did hands on exercises on traction splinting and back boarding. We also covered the basics of what a search and rescue operation looks like, went over command structure, and talked about what the role of a Field Instructor is in those situations.

Then, we headed to the field for a full scale mock search & rescue scenario. Field Instructors got to practice using the command structure to find an injured patient in a backcountry environment, perform an assessment, treat injuries, and move the patient to an area for evacuation. Two rescuers were briefed to get “sick” along the way, to test the groups ability to manage a changing situation and multiple patients. The instructors showcased their knowledge and training, and did a remarkable job in bringing the patient back home safely. These trainings are and will continue to be a vital part of managing the risks that come with therapy in the backcountry. A big thanks to Katie for volunteering as our patient (and showcasing her remarkable acting skills), as well as to all the staff on both shifts who turned out to practice their craft. See below for some pictures of the exercise!

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Rescuers work to stabilize the patient after a successful search operation.

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Katie going for the academy award.

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Rescuers secure the patient to a backboard to protect the spine during transport. The patient is carefully carried to an evacuation point for further treatment at a hospital.


Thanks for the post! More proof that Evoke really is prepared to take care of all of their clients! D. Carter, RN, BSN

Posted by Denise Carter

Thank you for your comments Denise. it really is great to see these trainings and this level of care our instructors are so capable of providing. I'm grateful for them and the many hours Dan, our nurse Adam and the rest of our field department put into making these trainings happen. Thank you!

Posted by Rick Heizer

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