Thursday, June 30, 2011

Go Wild This Summer With Wilderness First Aid!

I don't mean to jinx it. I really don't. But so far this Summer hasn't been as dreadful as it has been in year's past, which makes for a perfect time to go camping. Overnight lows are consistent, the sun exists (yes, there was doubt in February) and I actually pulled out my bike from storage and wiped off the seat (and that's about all I did). So with camping just around the bend, it's always a good idea to brush up on advanced first aid skills — especially when your campsite or bike route is a solid 30 minutes from emergency medical services.

Warning: Obligatory anecdote. Call me nerdy. I'm that weird Eagle Scout kid you knew in high school. I memorized knots, hung food from trees and learned how to go number two in the woods (yes, there is a right way and a wrong way). More importantly: I learned all kinds of backcountry first aid skills. And the American Red Cross Central Valley is about to offer a program so you can learn these skills, too.

The class is called Wilderness First Aid. The course combines classroom lecture, skills practice and role-playing to teach the response steps and treatment of injuries and illness in delayed-response situations. The course focuses on:

• Primary and secondary assessments
• Head (brain), neck and back injuries
• Heat-related emergencies and hypothermia
• Altitude-related illnesses, allergies and anaphylaxis
• Bone and joint injuries
• Burns
• Wounds and wound infection

... but that's just the start of it. In short, the class is a very in-depth look at several outdoorsy first aid situations. Bee sting in the woods? Broken bone in the backcountry? Severe burn at the campsite? There's a class for that.

Want to enroll? I thought so. Starting today, classes will be scheduled and enrollment will be open for Wilderness First Aid classes in the Central Valley. So if you're a nerdy ex-scout, a connoisseur of the outdoors or just enjoy the occasional jaunt through the forest preserve, taking this class will help you save a life in cases of delayed emergency response.