May 4, 2006 at 9:17 pm #1218500Richard E. MatchetteBPL Member
The best first aid kit I ever bought was $85 and weighed 0 grams. It was a 16 hour wilderness first aid class. This is a 2 day version of the famous wilderness first responder training outdoor camp leaders and search and rescue types go through. My class included 2 emergency room nurses, many Sierra Club and outdoor guides and scout troop leaders. I think my wife and I were the only ones there simply to learn how to take care of ourselves out in the woods. That’s a shame, I think everyone who backpacks would benefit from this class. I thought the training was special, but I knew it when the nurses commented on how much they’d learned they didn’t know after years in an ER.
The premise of the class is you’re 4 hours to 3 days away from professional help and need to evaluate and treat common wilderness injuries. A lot of what you learn is inappropriate and probably legally actionable in an urban setting. Out with your hiking partner, this knowledge can help you quickly decide whether your hike needs to be delayed for treatment, aborted or can safely be continued. It quite possibly could save a limb or a life. Using simple mnemonic algoriths you will learn how to quickly assess many medical injuries. What do you really know about shock or heat exhaustion? If someone falls 15 feet could you clear their spine or arrange them for transport with a broken neck? Thankfully, most of us will never face
questions like these. Neither will we ever use most of the items we carry in our first aid kit. In this case a little knowledge is a wonderful thing, I urge everyone to look into these classes.
I do have one caveat about the class, specifically for ultralighters. The first aid kit they recommend ismeasured in pounds. Not surprising, considering they are training a lot of guides for groups who they are legally responsible for keeping safe. There’s a good article on this site about individual first aid kits that may prove more to your tastes. It’s not how you splint, it’s the subtleties of a fracture and its treatment that make this class so valuable. Personally, after taking the class I added a rubber glove (you can get by with one, not two) and 3 safety pins to my first aid kit. You’d be
amazed what you can do with safety pins. Check it out, take the class.
I’m going to conclude with a review and recommendation, so first a disclaimer. I am not in any way related to, associated with nor have a financial interest in any wilderness first aid class or specifically Bobbie Foster and her classes. I am in my early 50’s. I took several first aid courses as a boy scout at fire stations in the 60’s, in high school as part of a health class, in college and as a county employee in my current job. Nothing even comes close to a wilderness first aid class and no one teaches the material better than Bobbie Foster. Bobbie Foster is something of a legend in northern
California. She’s about 5 feet tall with 4 feet of hair and a ton of energy and knowledge. She trains doctors, nurses, ambulance emt’s, and anyone lucky enough to take a class from her. As it says on her website, “Her class is to others like a dragster is to a volvo.” One student flew down from Washington to take her class when I was there. If you’re ever anywhere near here take 16 hours and check it out, you won’t regret it. She calls her company Foster Calm, info availalable here. Stay safe and stay calm.
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