What is WRFA you ask? Wilderness and Remote First Aid. The goal of the course, which will leave me with a certification from the American Red Cross, is to be prepared to offer medical aid in the wilderness or remote situations. In places where medical assistance is hours away. Sure, I’ll also be First Aid and CPR/AED certified too. But it’s the idea of being able to lend aid or self-administer aid that drives me to keep my certification current.
This weekend will be my third time taking the course. Every single time I’ve taken it, something new has etched deeper in my brain. I continue to take it to help me feel confident that I’ve considered situations I might encounter when I’m hiking and that, if needed, I could help someone injured or to self administer some first aid when I’m on my own. As a Woman Who Hike Ambassador it’s required to lead our group hike and outings. I’m also a leader in Scouting and many times WRFA training is required for adult leaders or crews on High Adventure trips.
The first time I took it the class the instructor asked us to define what Wilderness and Remote mean. Of course my first thought was out in the backcountry far from cities. Others responded similarly. Then he asked if a natural disaster that effects a city – say Hurricane Katrina – would fit the definition. What about the area impacted by a tornado? We all agreed that those would be examples of how people could be cut off from medical assistance. So this training had the possibility of helping others in situations I hadn’t considered and gave it even more value than my original impetus for taking the course.
My chosen instructor @hikingdude uses lots of practice scenarios with the type of gear you might have on hand to reinforce the skills. The second time I took the class I spent time bundled like a burrito on a hot day while my classmates treated me for hypothermia. Little did I realize that just two months later I’d use those skills on my ferry ride to Isle Royale to treat a fellow traveler who’d become hypothermic on the ride to the park. Recognizing what was happening was half the battle. I think that’s the hardest part. Having the presence of mind to notice symptoms. Especially with heat exhaustion or hypothermia. They are sneaky and develop over time making it easy for both the person experiencing them and those around to dismiss them.
Want to get your certification? There are a plenty of options. Depending on where you live, these are a few:
Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota
http://www.activesrc.com/wildernessfirstaid.html – register for classes with Hiking Dude. He is a certified American Red Cross instructor. If you are involved in Scouting, he offers discounts for registered Scouting leaders and youth.
Across the U.S.
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