Outdoor Education & Leadership office to offer wilderness first responder course

Isabel Carden, Staff Writer

The University’s Outdoor Education & Leadership (OEL) Office is offering a class titled Wilderness First Responder from Jan. 4-12.

Wilderness First Responder (WFR), is a course intended for “anyone working in a position of leadership in an outdoor setting or for individuals who want a high level of wilderness medical training for extended personal backcountry trips or expeditions,” according to the Director of Outdoor Education & Leadership Office (OEL) Tony Stafford’s posting in the Message Center. This course is focused on wilderness medicine and the proper administration of emergency treatment when an accident occurs in the wilderness and it is not possible to get to a hospital or medical center within 60 minutes. WFR training is needed in these specific circumstances. However, the course information emphasizes that this sort of treatment is only advisable when it is not possible to get the patient to a hospital in a timely matter.

A WFR course is 8-10 days long and teaches many survival skills surrounding possible injuries and first responder situations. The course will cover setting fractures, managing head trauma, major bleeds, and broken bones.

WFR will be held at the Forest D. Brown Center at the Cowan Retreat Property, which is only an eight mile drive from campus. It will be taught by instructors from the SOLO Wilderness Medicine, a company that is centered around providing courses with survival skills information. However, registration for the course is handled by the University’s OEL office.

Concerning some of the positives about participating in a course like this, Stafford said, “It helps our leaders understand the risks and the severity if folks are not making a good decision in a remote environment. It also helps our leaders understand how to be proactive with self-care. Most students do not understand the importance of fueling the body correctly and managing both the physical and emotional well being of students in a backcountry setting.”

Furthermore, Stafford discussed the benefits that a course such as WFR could have for someone on a pre-med track or for someone hoping to work in the outdoor industry. Stafford believes these survival courses teach a participant about leadership and reading the body language of one’s peers.

The OEL office offers a vast amount of opportunities for students to get off campus and become engaged with the outdoors. Students can participate in challenge courses, rent bikes, go on outing trips, live in the “outhouse” affinity house, and much more.

It costs $675, or $695 if not CPR certified, to participate in the upcoming WFR course.

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