WFR – 2 years go by quickly

While everyone was getting ready for the Superbowl weekend, I once again had alternate plans. It’s like in life, most the time, I am a little different. In high school, instead of attending prom, I went camping/hiking with 8 of my closest girl friends. I wanted to spend a memorable time with my friends, in the woods, instead of dancing with 1000 people I didn’t care for. At 17 years old, I was making decisions against the mainstream, following my own beat.

This weekend, I attended a 3 day (72 hour) class to re-certify in my wilderness first responder (WFR), adult and child CPR, AIE and Airway Management certificate. My last certificate was valid from August 2012-August 2014. The course is not an EMT class in either front or back country but it is a nationally recognized certificate for most people who lead trips. If you are miles away from help, you are first on the scene, what do you do? When do you evacuate the patient?

Refreshing on my outdoor wilderness skills, reminds me of the many places I have been. Most of the time, my WFR skills have been used on myself. Last month, when I was hit by a car, I used the patient assessment skills, analyzing myself before I choose to get up. I checked for ABCDE – Airway management, breathing, circulation, blood sweep, decision about disability and expose/treat life threatening injuries.

I have used a SOAP note (Summary/Observations-Findings/Assessment/Plan) when I have called 911 for my grandfather. I remember specifically calling 911 from Philadelphia, speaking to a dispatcher about where to find him, his symptoms and the action/care that needed to happen while he was having a seizure in New York.
I experienced heat stroke while biking in Missouri experiencing an altered mental status and hallucinations. I experienced hydration issues and Hyponatremia in Rhode Island, at my first half ironman, drinking excessive water intake diluting the blood sodium, resulting in a visit to the medical tent and receiving an IV. I’ve experienced mild altitude illness when I hiked Half Dome in Yosemite, after a rapid ascent to altitude. I’ve had mild/moderate allergic reactions to food, almost reaching anaphylaxis – allergic reactions which cause difficulty breathing. I’ve maybe only had one episode of food poisoning. I’m not even certain it was food poisoning. In Malaysia, I saw a furry creature scurry across the floor where I was eating and promptly went outside to regurgitate my food. I don’t know what it says about me, that I have personally experienced many of the skills that were taught in this class. I am thankful to have the skills to identify the problem, and observe the symptoms/signs.

I am thinking about using my WFR skills this spring to get more patient care experience outdoors. It will help me identify if a career in nursing in the field is something I want to pursue. I am going to research volunteering at search and rescue teams, adventure racing and maybe other outdoor events to gain more experience in patient care, hopefully it will be a confirmation that I am on the right track, a career that blends my professional and personal interests while feeling meaningful.

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