Mountaineering School 2014-2015 Outing 3
Location: North Park
Maps & Other Documents:
On December 13, 2014 students in the mountaineering school gathered at North Park to do some practical training in wilderness first aid. The day kicked off with a 3.5 mile hike leaving off from the boathouse parking lot. Students took turns leading the hike which began with a wrong turn onto what we assumed to be the trail on our mapped route, but which turned out to be a dead end and not a trail at all—a familiar start for a hike. When the “trail” became a dead end, the students decided to return to their last point of known reference and look for the trail once again. Upon return, the trailhead was easily spotted and we were all reminded how easy it is to assume that because you see a trail, it must be the trail you are seeking. Fortunately, this was a short detour and the rest of the hike went according to plan. Our destination was the Old Firehouse where we gathered inside for mountain medicine instruction.
Kevin Chartier led the discussion, sharing his expertise and experience treating mountain injuries as a ski patroller, to reinforce the information we learned in class earlier in the week from Dr. Bob. Students were given information on how to handle wilderness first aid emergencies from sizing up the scene to addressing immediate threats, gathering patient history, monitoring vital signs, checking for secondary injuries, stabilizing the spine, and making a decision or plan to evacuate. After the verbal instruction and discussions, students broke into groups of three to practice mock scenarios.
Students were confronted with problems such as severe hypothermia, injuries resulting from falls while climbing, severe allergic reactions, and serious complications resulting from poor nutrition and hydration. Each student had the opportunity to be the first aid leader and take charge of the situation as he or she might if it occurred in reality. The old adage, “practice makes perfect,” rings true here; in most cases, the more we practiced, the more natural and rapid our actions became. It also became apparent that reviewing the Seven Steps in Accident Response and taking Wilderness First Aid training regularly to hone these skills and keep them sharp is a must.
A short discussion followed the practicum to answer questions and gain valuable feedback on what we could do to improve upon our initial reactions. Several instructors offered their knowledge and personal experience, in addition to their acting skills. On behalf of the students, I would like to thank Dr. Bob Coblenz, Kevin Chartier, Greg Buzulencia, Shane Shin, Martha Gray, Bill Baxter, Brian Ottinger, Erika Karapandi, Ginette Walker Vinski, and Paul Toth for all of their help on this important subject.
As a final act of mountaineering preparation, students were again divided into small groups and told to make their own route back to the vehicles using anything but roads. This made for a speedy return with the standard anticipation that accompanies the end of a hike—booze, food, and fellowship.