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Wilderness Medicine Institute

NOLS Wyss Wilderness Medicine Campus project wins award!

Every year the Concrete Association of Wyoming accepts nominations from current CAW members for recognition of concrete projects completed and performed in the state of Wyoming. The Project “NOLS Wyss Wilderness Medical Campus” in Lander Wyoming has received the award in the Special Projects category/ School Facilities, for its innovative uses of concrete. The award was nominated by Rocky Mountain Pre-Mix Concrete, Lander Wyoming.

© John Stoddard

This photo shows the polished cement floor in the student commons area of the educational facility.

Permalink | Posted by Leslie van Barselaar on Jan 25, 2013 in the following categories: Wilderness Medicine Institute, Wyss Wilderness Medicine Campus

5th Edition of Wilderness Medicine to Hit Shelves

5th Edition

Lander, Wyo.—The National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) will debut the fifth edition of NOLS Wilderness Medicine, a comprehensive first-aid book, at the Winter Outdoor Retailer (OR) Market Jan. 24 and 25 in Salt Lake City, Utah.

NOLS Wilderness Medicine encapsulates fundamental topics in first aid and wilderness response to medical emergencies. NOLS’ leadership curriculum is interwoven throughout as an important element in preventing, recognizing and treating common medical scenarios in the backcountry. First-aid topics like patient assessment, soft tissue injury and dislocations and environmental challenges such as heat, altitude and poisonous plants are all covered in this 300-page resource for outdoorspeople.

The fifth edition of NOLS Wilderness Medicine features new chapters on mental health and judgment and decision-making—a leadership skill NOLS teaches on all courses, as well as updated practices. It cannot, however, replace a hands-on wilderness medicine education.

NOLS is home to the Wilderness Medicine Institute (WMI), the leader in wilderness medicine education. Author Tod Schimelpfenig has been a NOLS field instructor and practicing emergency medical technician since 1974. He has served as the WMI curriculum director for the past 10 years.

NOLS also recently released a new edition of Wilderness Wisdom, a collection of over 1,000 quotes collected from a variety of authors, environmentalists, great thinkers and famous leaders. NOLS Curriculum Director John Gookin, who edited Wilderness Wisdom, will be giving a book signing at the January OR. Both books are now available on the NOLS online store.

Permalink | Posted by Brent Wallen on Jan 23, 2013 in the following categories: Wilderness Medicine Institute

Polish and Shine on the Wyss Campus
















Permalink | Posted by jstoddard on Dec 18, 2012 in the following categories: Wilderness Medicine Institute, Wyss Wilderness Medicine Campus

Complete: Wyss Campus fundraising

We are delighted to announce that we have met our lead donor’s challenge to raise $1.5 million toward the Wyss Wilderness Medicine Campus. In the spring of 2011, Mr. Hansjörg Wyss contributed the first $1.5 million to kick off the successful campaign, challenging NOLS to raise $1.5 million from alumni, staff, and friends, with the promise of a matching gift upon completion. NOLS not only met his challenge of $1.5 million, but exceeded it by $35,600.

Combined with the many donations sent by alumni, staff, and family, the NOLS Wilderness Medicine Institute (WMI) has much to be grateful for, as do the students who are already taking advantage of the custom-built residential facility in the Red Canyon.

The campus was dedicated during the annual October board meetings in Lander, Wyo., and the first Wilderness Emergency Medical Technician course hosted on the new ground graduated Nov. 30.

Brad Christensen photo

We cannot express our gratitude enough for all of the support we received as we developed this new classroom and opened new doors for WMI and NOLS.

Permalink | Posted by Casey Adams on Dec 6, 2012 in the following categories: Wilderness Medicine Institute, Wyss Wilderness Medicine Campus

NOLS Wyss Wilderness Medicine Campus Hosts First Wilderness EMT Course

The new National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLSWyss Wilderness Medicine Campus has seen its first Wilderness Emergency Technician (WEMT) course reach completion. On Nov. 30, 30 newly minted WEMTs became the first graduating class to utilize the cutting-edge facility in Wyoming.


Wyss campus blog
© John Stoddard

Funding for the campus was driven by the generous donations of Hansjörg Wyss and former landowners Dr. Charles and Mary Ann McMahon. The $6.5 million campus is the first-ever facility designed from the ground up to host wilderness medicine courses. It is comprised of seven structures—five student cabins, the main educational facility, and a caretaker residence—totaling almost 20,000 square feet. The multi-functional campus includes residential capacity for 32 students, and the main building holds an additional 30 day-users in the classroom and main dining area. The buildings were designed to be maximally efficient and they utilize photovoltaic and geothermal technologies to work toward the goal of being a net-zero energy consumption campus.

One of the two classrooms will be the home for 10 of the Wilderness Medicine Institute’s (WMI) 15 annual Wilderness EMT courses. These intensive 30-day programs combine the national EMT curriculum with WMI’s wilderness medicine curriculum. The courses attract a wide range of students including outdoor professionals, members of the military, search and rescue specialists and pre-hospital care providers.  he second classroom will provide space for other NOLS programs.

The Wyss Campus only occupies a small portion of the 243-acre property. NOLS’ decision to leave most of the property undeveloped assists in the conservation of valuable wildlife habitat in Red Canyon, 12 miles southeast of Lander, Wyo. WMI course scenarios will take place in red rock hoodoos, sagebrush covered hillsides and along—and in—the Little Popo Agie River.

Permalink | Posted by Leslie van Barselaar on Dec 5, 2012 in the following categories: Wilderness Medicine Institute, Wyss Wilderness Medicine Campus

Wyss Campus to open its doors

Located along the Little Popo Agie River that flows through the largely federally protected Red Canyon near Lander, Wyo. is the new NOLS Wyss Wilderness Medicine Campus, dedicated Oct. 12. This week, the campus will welcome its first Wilderness EMT students.

Lindsay D'Addato photo

Of the 243 acres NOLS acquired for NOLS Wilderness Medicine Institute courses, the Wyss Campus only impacts a small portion. NOLS’ decision to leave most of the property undeveloped assists in the conservation of valuable wildlife habitat within the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.

The campus itself is comprised of seven structures—five student cabins, the main educational facility, and a caretaker residence—totaling almost 20,000 square feet. The multi-functional facility includes residential capacity for 32 students, and the main building holds an additional 30 day-users in the classroom and main dining area.


Lindsay D'Addato photo

The campus boasts highly efficient building and energy-usage technologies that will be used to educate all users on their viability.

NOLS parent Hansjörg Wyss, the lead donor for the campus, addressed the crowd of about 130 that attended the Oct. 12 dedication, declaring his appreciation of NOLS and the Wyoming landscape.

Lindsay D'Addato photo

As of this week, Wilderness EMT students will be afforded the chance to appreciate the same landscape, coupled with an unrivaled WMI education.

Permalink | Posted by Casey Adams on Oct 31, 2012 in the following categories: Wilderness Medicine Institute, Wyss Wilderness Medicine Campus

WMI: Fun with numbers

Last week, NOLS Wilderness Medicine Institute (WMI) hosted its annual staff meeting, complete with lectures, workshops, and a departmental update from WMI Director Melissa Gray.

Each year, Gray reviews the year in a “fun with numbers” format, which we thought would be the most entertaining way for us to relay those details:

645 courses taught in fiscal year 2012, a 2.7-percent increase over fiscal year 2011.

8 percent: The increase of students who took WMI courses this year over last year.

57 students were taught in Portuguese.

107 students were taught in Swedish.

182 students took courses in Spanish.

NOLS awarded 39 individual students $29,835 in scholarship funds to attend Wilderness Emergency Medical Technician courses. An additional 113 students used AmeriCorps funds for their courses. Fifteen students fluent in American Sign Language received Moving Hands scholarships, and five Veterans’ Administration students were supported through enrollment and certification.

41 states hosted WMI courses, and only two states have never hosted a course.

19 countries hosted WMI courses.

The Wyss Wilderness Medicine Campus is nearing completion. WMI will start welcoming students into this new facility Nov. 4.

As NOLS steps into a new fiscal year, Gray and leadership throughout the school are excited to support students and staff around the globe.

Permalink | Posted by Casey Adams on Sep 28, 2012 in the following categories: Wilderness Medicine Institute, Wyss Wilderness Medicine Campus

Wilderness Medicine Expedition - Mountaineering Style

The Wilderness Medicine Institute's most recent Wilderness Medicine Expedition (WME) just returned from the Cascade Mountains.  The WME is a continuing education course designed for EMTs, Medics, RNs, and MDs that focuses on the curriculum areas of wilderness medicine, leadership, and outdoor skills.  This particular course was run in conjunction with NOLS Pacific Northwest and had a mountaineering skills focus.  

The five WME students began their course with a day of medical work, gear issue, and food preparation at NOLS Pacific Northwest in Conway, Washington.  An early departure on day two saw the group dropped off at the Shannon Ridge road head for their backcountry expedition on Mt. Shuksan.  One week later the group emerged having learned and shared many new skills and with sore abdominal muscles from a great deal of laughter!



Expedition members practicing patient assessment at NOLS Pacific Northwest.


On the hike into North Cascades National Park.


An improvised splint for an unusable knee injury.


Students glissading on a rope team on the Sulphide Glacier.


Enroute to the summit of Mt. Shuksan.


Members of the expedition on the summit of Mt. Shuksan!



Permalink | Posted by Marco Johnson on Sep 21, 2012 in the following categories: Pacific Northwest, Wilderness Medicine Institute

News from the WMI California WEMT program at the College of the Siskiyous

This summer NOLS Wilderness Medicine Institute (WMI) ran our first two Wilderness Emergency Medical Technician (WEMT) courses in our new home for our California WEMT program near Mt. Shasta at the College of the Siskiyous. The College of the Siskiyous (COS) is home to established programs for Paramedics, EMTs, and Wildland Fire Fighters. This summer we also were able to catch up with Tony Osa, the Fire Program Coordinator at the College of Siskiyous.

Tony Osa head shot
photo by COS staff

How did your path lead you to the College of the Siskiyous?

I was on active duty with the Forest Service Fire Department with seven years to go (I had 35 years already).  I was living in the Scott Valley and my neighbor was a full-time fire instructor at the college.  I saw an announcement the Fire Program Coordinator/Instructor, applied, and I got the job six years ago. It is very rewarding and keeps me in touch with firefighters and fire training. The wonderful staff and instructors are mostly active duty firefighters from Cal Fire, Forest Service, and local volunteer fire departments.

Tell me a little more about your Fire program:

There are two aspects to the program.  One is that we offer an Associates degree in Fire Technology that was started in 1973.  The degree, although not required for employment, is a way to be more competitive for initial job placement and career advancement.   The second aspect is our Firefighter Academy.  Started in 1993, this is a 20-unit, semester-long program that prepares students for immediate employment.  Classes run from 7am to 6pm, four days a week, for 18 weeks.    Our sleeper program, which involves four departments taking in our students as volunteers living at the station, allows them to gain work experience and earn college credit towards the Firefighter 1 state certification. 

What makes you most proud about your students in the program?

Most of our students come as very young high school grads, but some enter in their late 30's.    For a lot of them, it is their first time being on their own.  To watch them mature from "What's in it for me?" to becoming a team player, and to see them grow academically and physically is very interesting to see.  I specifically remember one student's change over time in the fire academy.  He was a big, tall kid who was overweight and out of shape.  You wouldn't recognize him now.  He lost weight and gained strength and confidence.  It is also gratifying to get positive feedback from colleagues, parents, and students about the quality of our program.

What are some challenges?

Every semester is a learning curve; discovering what new challenges you will face, and what will test the limits. The syllabus is now 20 pages and it is a challenge to fit the Fire Academy curriculum, which is agency driven, into the college rules and expectations.

Another challenge is trying to figure out ways to provide the needed training to the many volunteer fire companies in the county, some of which are very small and remote, is something that we are constantly striving to improve.

What three things excite you about the aspects or merits of the Fire program at the College of the Siskiyous?

1) We're a small college but we have an incredible program that is recognized within the state of California and nationally, both for its structure and wildland fire components.

2) We have a state of the art training facility that supports the growth and development of our program.  We have a live fire training tower on campus for hands-on instruction for our students.

3) Within the fire program, our student success rate and job placement rate exceeds most of the fire academies in other parts of the state.  This is due to the great support from the local fire agencies and the incredible faculty and staff that devote many long hours to maintaining the quality and integrity of the fire program.

We also have a lot of information traveling by word of mouth, which is our main form or recruitment.  It is rewarding when I go to meetings and say, "I'm from COS," and people respond, "I hear you have a great program."  That is always very gratifying to hear from your peers.  We get students from all over the state, and even out of state.

How did you hear about the NOLS Wilderness Medicine Institute?

I first learned about WMI when I was seeking information on the WFA and WFR courses when I was asked to host a class for the local Forest Service. When we found out they were looking for a new facility I invited them to check us out. Shana Tarter, WMI Assistant Director and Gates Richards, Special Programs Director, came out from Wyoming, toured our campus and surrounding area, and liked what they saw.

What excites you about having the WMI WEMT program at COS?

We are all are very excited and can't wait for the next series of classes to start.  We're just thrilled we have the ability to offer the classroom space, cafeteria, lodging, and a wilderness type environment right here on campus. Our vice president is actively looking for ways to expand lodging facilities to accommodate more classes. The NOLS Wilderness Medicine Institute WEMT and its program and goals fit so well into the Fire and Paramedic program and their goals.

Our program is also looking to expand our outdoor rescue classes.  We already offer swift water rescue, avalanche rescue, low-angle rescue, and have the ability to expand our outdoor rescue course offerings.  We want to develop a rescue certificate that incorporates a WFR or WEMT course with these rescue classes.

I believe that the partnership between COS and WMI is a great match and will continue to flourish for many years to come.  I am happy to have played a small part in developing this great opportunity, along with many other members of the COS administration, faculty and staff.  Shana, Gates, and Melissa from WMI have been a pleasure to work with as have all the instructors for the WEMT classes.  I look forward to their return to COS, and also look forward to visiting the NOLS campus in Wyoming someday soon.

Permalink | Posted by Leslie van Barselaar on Sep 14, 2012 in the following categories: Wilderness Medicine Institute

Wyss Finishes Moving Forward











Permalink | Posted by jstoddard on Aug 30, 2012 in the following categories: Wilderness Medicine Institute, Wyss Wilderness Medicine Campus

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