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An Opportunity to Help Support Wilderness & Disaster Medicine Education

Now, more than ever; and especially with the recent severe weather and natural (& man-made) disasters, people are starting to realize just how unprepared they are for such emergencies.

We would like to raise $20,000 to put toward new equipment such as teaching supplies, medical supplies, and educational promotional materials. This will help to raise not only awareness of the need to be prepared for a medical emergency, but will also help to provide financial aid to those less fortunate or otherwise unable to afford training like CPR and Wilderness First Aid.

The Center for Wilderness Safety is a non-profit organization that teaches wilderness & remote medicine and is working hard to offer education and training classes across the globe. We started out teaching Boy Scouts, and it wasn’t long before we were asked to teach classes for Search and Rescue professionals, mission trip leaders, outdoor enthusiasts, and more.

Please consider making a donation and help us in our mission to make our communities, friends, and neighbors better prepared.

Boy Scouts Introduce New SAR Merit Badge

The Boy Scouts of America recently announced the creation of a Search and Rescue merit badge. Appropriately enough, they made the announcement during the 2012 National Search and Rescue Conference hosted by the National Association for Search and Rescue (NASAR) and the Mountain Rescue Association (MRA) in Lake Tahoe, Nevada.

“The Boy Scouts of America’s motto is ‘Be Prepared’—which sometimes translates to knowing how to respond in an emergency,” said Bob Mazzuca, Chief Scout Executive of the Boy Scouts of America. “While we are not encouraging our Scouts to practice these new skills independently, we do want them to be ready to lend a hand to the community, and to each other.”

To meet the requirements of the Search and Rescue merit badge, Scouts must complete a series of nine requirements relating to SAR fundamentals such as:

  • The process and safety methods of working around specialized teams such as aircraft, canine, and aquatic rescue teams
  • Identifying differences between search and rescue environments, such as coastal, wilderness, rural, and urban landscapes
  • Determining when Universal Transverse Mercator (UTM) and latitude and longitude (Lat/Lon) should be used

Scouting officials have stated that earning the badge will not qualify a Scout as a trained searcher. In a press release, Bob Mazzuca, Chief Scout Executive of the Boy Scouts of America related, “The Boy Scouts of America’s motto is ‘Be Prepared’—which sometimes translates to knowing how to respond in an emergency. While we are not encouraging our Scouts to practice these new skills independently, we do want them to be ready to lend a hand to the community, and to each other.” Regardless, those skills will serve Scouts well in their lives.

Deep in the Woods, Out on the River

Wilderness first aid required when medical technology is unavailable
By Michael Darzi

When calling 911 is not an immediate option and help in the form of a hospital or trauma center is more than an hour (or days) away, time becomes the essential element between wilderness first aid (WFA) and standard first aid. In such situations, the task of managing the injured and the ill will challenge one beyond basic first-aid knowledge, and require skills that make you think “outside the box.”

Wilderness medicine is required whenever medical technology is unavailable, whether due to a lack of adequate equipment or too distant medical facilities. WFA’s value makes it a requirement for many groups such as search-and-rescue and the Boy Scouts of America for its highadventure bases, and highly recommended for outdoor leaders and guides. WFA is an intensive 16-hour course that teaches students how to properly assess, treat, and manage common illnesses and injuries.

Long hikes, extended lengths of rivers, large expanses of ocean, and miles of asphalt may separate the patient from a medical facility. You may have to endure heat or cold, rain, wind, or darkness.

The equipment needed for treatment and evacuation may have to be improvised, and communication with the “outside world” may be limited or nonexistent. Remote locations and harsh environments may require creative treatments. All these things can be a part of the world of Wilderness First Aid.

The Sierra Club’s Potomac Region Outings (PRO) is teaming with The Center for Wilderness Safety to hold two Wilderness First Aid courses this summer. The courses, taught by The Center for Wilderness Safety at the Turkey Run Education Center in Prince William Forest Park, are sponsored by PRO.

Courses are open to all. Sierra Club outings leaders are eligible for reimbursement. CPR/AED certification is a prerequisite—if you do not have that, you may register for a CPR/AED course at TrinityPresbyterian Church, Herndon, VA. See the complete schedule at www.wildsafe.org/courses.

This WFA course covers more than the basic first-aid requirement for Sierra Club outings leaders. If you are interested only in a CPR/AED course, CWS also teaches American Red Cross CPR/AED and will gladly schedule a class to accommodate your schedule. See www.wildsafe.org/courses/cpr.htm for more information. Outings leaders are also eligible for reimbursement of basic first-aid training.

Michael Darzi is chair of Potomac Region Outings.

Book Review – Altitude Illness: Prevention & Treatment

This new edition provides the latest information on prevention and treatment of altitude illness-from preparing for altitude to recognizing and treating the symptoms of acute mountain sickness, including high altitude pulmonary and cerebral edemas. Suited for both novice and seasoned hikers, climbers, trekkers, and skiers, Altitude Illness, nd Edition, also includes an updated examination of how altitude interacts with certain drugs, a new section on using the web to find more information about altitude illness, and much more.

· Updated guidelines for people going to altitude (heights above 7,000 feet) with pre-existing health conditions such as heart conditions, diabetes, and cancer

· A handy glossary and easy-to-read tables covering symptoms and signs, altitude illness, and high altitude drugs

· Case studies of real situations and a question-and-answer section help readers better understand general issues about altitude and its effects, and more


This LITTLE book is a great to-the-point guide regarding diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of all types of altitude illness. Many other books about altitude on the market get a bit too deep into the medical science to be practical for an on-the go guide, or they are a bit too sparse, leaving the reader with some ambiguity when its needed least. Neither is the case with this book; it provides just the right level of detail.

The book’s author is a distinguished medical doctor in the field of altitude illness and a mountaineer who has spent a significant amount of time working in the Himalaya. He presents the info as mountaineers need it. In particular, a few tables and decision trees are particularly helpful for quick diagnosis and treatment of the various ailments found at altitude.
Altitude Illness: Prevention & Treatment
Author: Stephen Bezruchka
Paperback: 156 pages
Publisher: Mountaineers Books; 2nd edition (September 2005)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0898866855
ISBN-13: 978-0898866858
Product Dimensions: 6 x 3.9 x 0.5 inches


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