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Wilderness Medicine Institute

Backpacks, Fake Blood and Femur Fractures: Wilderness First Responder Course

This post was written by Jeremy Robertson, an Adventure Outings, Chico, CA Staff Member, and participant in last week’s Wilderness First Responder course taught by NOLS Wilderness Medicine Institute.


Adventure Outings staff

"Recently, over a span of 10 days (May 28 – June 6), 30 new Wilderness First Responders (WFR) entered the outdoor world. Adventure Outings hosted its yearly WFR course through the National Outdoor Leadership School’s Wilderness Medicine Institute (NOLS WMI) in Chico.

This 80-hour course takes students through many of the possible first aid situations and solutions that may arise in backcountry or wilderness situations. Throughout the 10-day course, participants spend lots of time learning through scenarios where they practice treating “patients” as if they were truly out in the wilderness; they also get to practice their acting skills as students play the “patients”. Along side the interactive experiential learning, students also spend classroom time taking in the knowledge and information needed to treat patients."

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Permalink | Posted by Leslie van Barselaar on Jun 12, 2013 in the following categories: Wilderness Medicine Institute

Community Relief Medic Course

This is an article in the Wilderness Medical Society magazine by Jon Lowrance, WMI Instructor, about the Community Relief Medic Course offered by NOLS Wilderness Medicine Institute affiliate, Landmark Learning, in Cullowhee, NC. The redesigned Community Relief Medic course is unique in that it focuses the medical training and scenarios to the context of responding to a disaster or assisting in relief medical clinics. The two-day course includes hands-on training in patient assessment, common medical problems and their management, and medical decision-making. The course is appropriate training for medical mission and disaster response teams, local fire, law enforcement and EMS groups, scouting groups and members of the public who wish to be prepared and possibly volunteer when disasters occur.

Landmark Learning

Community Relief Medic Student populations include:

• Current relief workers or people interested in relief work, including mission groups, rescue and construction crews.

• Public safety, law enforcement, and first responder personnel.

• People interested in disaster medicine or those living in areas of frequent natural disaster.

Student Course Outline

Landmark Learning Contact Information

Permalink | Posted by Leslie van Barselaar on Jun 6, 2013 in the following categories: Wilderness Medicine Institute

Rock Rescue and Wrapping Up

As they entered the last week of their semester, the WMR (Whammer) students had a chance to use their skills in a student-led cliff rescue scenario in Sinks Canyon outside of Lander, Wyoming. The exercise involved rappelling to two “victims” on a small ledge, assessing and treating their injuries, and evacuating one with a tandem rappel and the other with a litter lower. This is in preparation for students’ final “graduation” scenario on May 2nd, the last day of their course. This full-day scenario will incorporate skills learned on every section of the course.

WMR Rescue Rappel

Students performing a tandem rappel

The Wilderness Medicine and Rescue Semester is a new course offered for the first time in 2013. It began with a one-month Wilderness EMT course outside of Lander, Wyoming, followed by one month in the canyons of southern Utah, two weeks on the Yampa River, and two weeks of climbing around Lander.  Students will walk away with Wilderness and Urban Emergency Medical Technician, CPR Instructor, Leave No Trace Master, Basic Swiftwater and Rock Rescue certifications. You can read more about the first WMR here and here.

WMR Rescue Rappel_2

Students performing a litter lower


Permalink | Posted by Megan Budge on Apr 29, 2013 in the following categories: Rocky Mountain, Wilderness Medicine Institute

Checking In with the WMR

After weeks of wilderness medicine training, students on the Wilderness Medicine and Rescue Semester (a.k.a. the Whammer!) were ready for another scenario, but they weren’t expecting it to be, well, real. Regardless, when one of their course mates had to be evacuated, students were calm and prepared to help. Unlike their other scenarios, this one ended with a real satellite phone call to the NOLS Evac line. Dave, the evacuated student, attributes the group’s reaction to weeks of commitment, enthusiasm and a willingness to learn. Happily, Dave will be able to rejoin the group within the next week for rock climbing in southern Utah.

WMR_Canyon2Traveling in the slot canyons of southern Utah
Photo by Robin Larson

WMR students have now completed a month long WEMT course and a month in the slot canyons of southern Utah. While in the canyons, students practiced the medical skills they learned on their WEMT and learned the technical and decision-making skills necessary for managing risk during slot canyon travel. By the end of this section, students were able to do a technical entry into a slot canyon, including rappels and pack lowers, on their own while instructors took on the role of silent observers. According to their instructor Anna Gast, they did “phenomenally well.” The canyon section also highlighted a curriculum strong in fundamental wilderness living and travel skills, leadership, teamwork and communication.

WMR_improvised_litterBuilding an improvised litter during a scenario
Photo by Robin Larson

Students are now on the Green River in Utah on the swiftwater rescue and canoe section of their course. The section began with a three-day river rescue seminar on the Yampa River in Colorado led by instructor Nate Ostis. Much of the time was spent in the water learning rescue swimming, throw bag technique, river crossing and mechanical advantage rope systems. The group will practice these skills as they travel down the Green for 12 days while also continuing their wilderness medicine scenarios on a real wilderness expedition.

100_2171Practicing swiftwater rescue skills
Photo by Tod Schimelpfenig

Next up, students are moving on to a CPR Instructors course and finally the rock rescue section. Stay tuned for more information as the first WMR wraps up on May 2nd!

Permalink | Posted by Megan Budge on Apr 9, 2013 in the following categories: Rocky Mountain, Wilderness Medicine Institute

Have You Seen This Man(nequin)?

Mr. Hurt_final

Known as: Mr. Hurt 
Responds to: Well, nothing really.
Work History: 150-lb. mannequin used for WEMT scenarios
Place of Residence: The WMI Gear Room
Hair Color: Golden Beige
Eye Color: Golden Beige
Skin Color: Golden Beige
Distinguishing Characteristics: Adaptable fashion sense, never loses a staring contest, often scripted as the unconscious patient in an emergency scenario, stoic demeanor.
Recently Noted for: His role as a special ops advertising agent for the March Moulage Madness challenge

If you walked into the NOLS Headquarters break room the past few days, you might have seen this dashing fellow as you grabbed your morning coffee or reheated weekend leftovers in the microwave. Despite his tendency to startle unsuspecting employees who haven’t quite made it to the coffee pot yet, the real purpose of his placement is to raise awareness for the recent “March Moulage Madness” challenge posed to the NOLS HQ community.

With the facilitation of every NOLS Wilderness Medicine Institute (WMI) course comes a turnover of supplies, including splints, cravats and stethoscopes. Additionally, every gear set comes with a set of stage makeup and a bag of moulage clothes - the shirts and pants used in course scenarios that involve simulated blood injuries. Rather than subjecting participants' own clothes to a smattering of “arterial bleeds” or trauma shear cuts, WMI provides gently worn clothing for these scenarios.

Makeup_finalMoulage Makeup Kit

In April, May and June, WMI will support over 250 courses ranging widely in length and location. That’s a lot of moulage clothes! To meet this high demand, WMI gathered clothing donations from NOLS HQ staff from March 19-25. Over the next few days, pictures of these high-fashion options, as modeled by your favorite WMI in-town staff, will be posted to the NOLS Wilderness Medicine Institute Facebook page. Staff donors and Facebook page members who “Like” their favorite photos will be eligible to win WMI swag! Prizes and winners will be announced on April 1 (no joke!). The clothes donated for this event will then be shipped off to support the realistic scenarios that are so critical to WMI courses. These scenarios provide our students with the hands-on experience to become competent and confident graduates.

Vote for your favorite moulage look! Visit the WMI Facebook page and while you’re there, tell us about your favorite scenario on your WMI course!

Permalink | Posted by Megan Budge on Mar 27, 2013 in the following categories: Wilderness Medicine Institute

Watch the Wyss Wilderness Medicine Campus video

Completed in the fall of 2012, the Wyss Wilderness Medicine Campus provides classrooms, practice fields, residences and dining facilities for WMI students and instructors. With over twenty years of experience, we know what attributes a state of the art wilderness medicine facility should have, and ours is specifically crafted to aid in the delivery of the very best wilderness medicine training.

Permalink | Posted by NOLS on Mar 22, 2013 in the following categories: Wilderness Medicine Institute, Wyss Wilderness Medicine Campus

Montañismo en Español y Primeros Auxilios al Aire Libre

Hace solo un par de semanas regresaron los alumnos del curso de Montañismo en Español (CMT) quienes estuvieron por 2 semanas aprendiendo habilidades de liderazgo, técnicas de montañismo y mínimo impacto (No Deje Rastro); en el área del Cordón de Melikina.

Fue un gusto contar con representantes de la ciudad de Punta Arenas, Coyhaique y Santiago entre otras. Y como es característico en estas latitudes en nuestros cursos hubo representantes de 3 países diferentes.

Todos se fueron muy contentos pero deseaban que el curso durará más días, y ademas que se realizara en otras zonas el pais.

Por otro lado, finalizaron 2 cursos dirigidos a la Corporación Nacional Forestal (CONAF) en el área de primeros auxilios con WMI. Las personas que participaron se capacitaron fuertemente. 30 fueron los profesionales del área forestal que se capacitaron y aprobaron el Wilderness Advance First Aid (WAFA). A ellos se sumaron 5 particulares provenientes de otras regiones y organizaciones.

Gracias a todos quiénes hicieron de estos cursos una realidad. Esperamos seguir aportando como NOLS Patagonia en la región.

Especial gracias a los alumnos e Instructores por las buenas vibras y estar atento a los detalles.

Búscanos en Facebook!


Foto: Patricia Soto
Foto: Patricia Soto
Foto: Patricia Soto
Foto: Patricia Soto

Recently, students from the Chilean Mountaineering Course (CMT) returned from the field after two weeks learning skills of leadership, mountain techniques, and minimum impact through Leave No Trace; in the area of Cordón Melikina.

It was a pleasure to have representatives from the Chilean cities of Punta Arenas, Coyhaique, and Santiago among others. We also had representation from three different countries!

All left the course very content but wishing the course was longer and could visit other regions of the country, the sign of a good course!

In other news, we have competed two WMI courses for the Corporación Nacional Forestal (CONAF) in the subject of First Aid. The people who participated in the program trained hard to achieve their Wilderness Advanced First Aid (WAFA) certification. 30 professional forest rangers from CONAF passed the course, along with five others from different regions and organizations.

Thank you to everyone who made these courses a reality. We hope to continue contributing to the Aysen region with NOLS Patagonia.

A special thanks to the students and instructors for their attention to details and their good energy throughout the programs.

Like us on Facebook!

Spanish and English translation contribution from Patricia Soto, Mercedes Lagos, and Taylor Feldman

Permalink | Posted by Taylor Feldman on Mar 14, 2013 in the following categories: Patagonia, Wilderness Medicine Institute

Welcoming the Wilderness Medicine and Rescue Semester

February 2nd marked the beginning of the Wilderness Medicine and Rescue Semester. Students spent the first two days of this 90-day adventure in an orientation at the new Wyss Wilderness Medicine Campus outside of Lander, Wyoming. During this time, students laid the groundwork for the community that will be the bedrock of their course.

Learning the NOLS leadership model

The weekend’s activities included team building exercises and an introduction to the NOLS leadership model, during which students and instructors discussed how to create a positive learning environment. Students then had the first of many opportunities to put theory into practice with a GPS navigation field exercise. They also had their first environmental studies class, a theme that will continue throughout their course.

Students practice GPS navigation skills during their orientation.

After the fun-filled weekend, students are hitting the books for their Wilderness EMT course that will go until the beginning of March. From there, they will be off for a month of canyoneering and two weeks each of canoeing and rock climbing in southern Utah. At each turn, students will learn and practice proper expedition and leadership behavior, along with wilderness evacuation, swiftwater rescue, and rock rescue skills. They will walk away with Wilderness and Urban Emergency Medical Technician, CPR Instructor, Leave No Trace Master, Basic Swiftwater and Rock Rescue certifications. Most importantly, however, they will leave with a tight-knit group of friends and a signature NOLS experience.

Does the Wilderness Medicine and Rescue Semester seem right up your alley? There is always next year! Find more information at

Permalink | Posted by Megan Budge on Feb 6, 2013 in the following categories: Rocky Mountain, Wilderness Medicine Institute, Wyss Wilderness Medicine Campus

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

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