Ending a Wilderness First Responder class is often an emotional sort of time. When you spend 8-10 days discussing life and death issues along with some of your favorite activities, it can be a pretty intense experience. Not every class bonds, but often they do.
This last course I did down at the Yulee, Florida Outward Bound STEP base was an unusual one. We only had nine people in the class, so it was small, and many were coming in off of a couple weeks of intensive training for dealing with their future clients and learning to cope with all the unexpected issues that come up in the out-of-doors. Everyone had traveled, and we were all short of focus when we started.
But everyone worked at it. After the first couple days and one or two nights of solid sleep, suddenly we were in the midst of the class, with some solid patient assessment skills, splinting methods, and lots of good discussion going on.We also had some unique visitors to this class . . . Buddy, the wayfaring puppy who had just decided to make the base his new home, galumped over to the class during every scenario and tried to snuggle up to all the patients . . . . Some maneuvering was needed to avoid potential patient trampling . . . He was a sweet little dog, though . . .After we’d adventured our way through spinal clearing, chest trauma, drawing abdominal organ charts, environmental issues, and dissecting the potential threats of lightning near and on the ocean, we arrived at our mock scenario day.
The practice went well, though a bit muckily, as the group organized themselves to extract a “semi-conscious patient” from the salt-marsh. After a lot of cleaning and a good night’s rest . . . it was time for the full-fledged mock rescue.
With a report of two “missing hikers,” the class took their improvised litter and set off on a search down the base trails. Following the likely path down towards the edge of the woods, they found the patients, one “struck” by a downed tree and another who’d broken his arm trying to get to his buddy in time. With some careful patient movement and splinting, both patients were soon tucked up on ensolite pads warmly blanketed. Within an hour they were transported back to a warm, safe spot.
Justly proud of their organization and accomplishment, the class sailed through the next two days of medical conditions, causes of altered levels of consciousness, and splinting sessions in preparation for the final exams . . . not to mention the ongoing ping-pong tournament and some lovely morning sunrises over the ocean.
The funniest moment of the course was “Rescue Dog”. Tessa, a little black bundle of energy, was visiting. Just as the rescuers moved out to help the patients, she snatched one of the tarps in her jaws and bounded through the middle of the scene, looking for all the world like a little “Mighty Dog to the Rescue” . . . . Then she dropped the tarp and started snuffling each of the patients (who were supposed to be allergic to dogs!)