For the past 2 weeks I’ve been living at the High Mountain Institute campus in Leadville, Colorado undergoing Wilderness First Responder training, through the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) Wilderness Medicine Institute (WMI).
The last two weeks, including people, class, adventures, and campus have been amazing. Our group is about 30 people, all taking this course for different reasons. A bunch of us, including myself, are going on to work in the outdoor education/wilderness guiding industries, a few people are going on to work in teaching roles, and a few are taking it because it’s fun!
Our days here at the HMI campus have been packed. We start class in the morning around 8am, and have a combination of classroom learning and practical scenarios. Practical scenarios beak up the classroom learning. In these, we go outside and into the mountain landscape, to practice dealing with mock patients – everything from massive bone fractures, broken spines, overdoses, cardiac emergencies, hypothermia, and mental illness – we’ve dealt with it all. In addition to classroom learning and short scenarios, we’ve also had a number of major scenarios. We worked as a team to pull hypothermia patients out of freezing cold snowmelt water – I was actually the patient in this scenario, and actually started to develop mild hypothermia after laying in the freezing cold stream for a few minutes waiting for my rescue team to get to me. We also completed an extended night scenario, in which we went out searching for victims in the evening. The night scenario developed into a multiple patient remote emergency with no chance of immediate evac, mountain temperatures and low supplies.
Our instructors, Milenka Heran and Iris Saxer were experienced, animated and effective educators, and were a pleasure to work with on this course.
During the course, I managed to take a few photos, with three different cameras, depending on what I had access to and what was most appropriate for the situation. I used the iPhone4, Canon G10, and Canon 5DmkII w/ Canon EF24-70 f/2.8L lens.