Wilderness medicine is an area in which individuals practice medicine in outlying places. There are a lot of different subjects that go into being a wilderness EMT and first aid responder, and it’s vitally important that all of the proper procedures are followed because in certain situations hospitals and physicians may be several hours, if not days, away from the emergency locations.
There are a few main tasks that those involved in wilderness first aid & medicine must know and perform. Firstly they must be able to create a plan prior to the actual trip that takes into account whatever variables could potentially become a health concern. This involves assessing the risk involved with certain trips and adventures (which is why this area of emergency response is sometimes referred to as adventure medicine). Once they create a plan it will enable them to design an appropriate medical kit that will be useful for the specific region and activity. By taking these steps wilderness responders will actually save time and energy because they will only have to carry what they need or what they have already concluded might be useful.
When an incident occurs it is the wilderness first response team’s job to be prepared and be that helping hand in a difficult situation. Using the equipment available they will perform any and all possible treatments and help stabilize severe conditions. Depending on the patient’s health at the time evacuation may be necessary as well, especially if there is a problem that can only be dealt with in an emergency room or hospital.
This is the general plan of actions for every kind of wilderness EMT, but there are specific areas that are focused on during training that some people may choose to specialize in. Some of the most dangerous places a person can travel to include rivers, mountains, and canyons- this is why all wilderness responders must have at least a basic knowledge of these places. During training students will learn diving medicine, tropical medicine, and high-altitude medicine. This type of career path merges together a regular EMT job with disease and military medicine preparation. These factors combined into one career allow those in adventure medicine to understand various environments and what potential threats are presented to people.
The scope of knowledge here goes beyond that of a hospital EMT or first aid responder. This is why candidates looking to become certified for wilderness medicine must first pass the National Registry of Emergency Medicine Technicians. Any individual who already has experience as a hospital EMT or physician can then qualify to take wilderness training. The Wilderness EMT Certification can be taken after a certified EMT has taken the extra classes required to move outside of the ambulance setting.
There are various wilderness medicine organizations and institutions throughout the United States, and online, that are available for those interested in getting certified. The Wilderness Medical Society is a nonprofit organization that offers resources and guidance in every area of wildness medicine. As far as online training goes the Wilderness Medical Associates International offers courses and up to nine college credits on its website: www.wildmed.com. Then there is Wilderness & Travel Medicine, which is an organization that has special events and conferences for those already involved in the adventure medicine career.