Archive for June 2013

Test Yourself — Wilderness First Aid Scenario

Test Yourself -- Wilderness First Aid Scenario

On a sunny, very hot and humid day in early August, you are hiking along the Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail when, at about 3:30, you spot up ahead two hikers who look to be resting in the shade.  As you approach them, one of them asks if you have any medical training.  Hesitantly, you acknowledge that you are Wilderness First Aid certified (and you suddenly begin to perspire a bit more heavily than you did a minute before).  She then explains that her companion, Robert, has grown increasingly ill over the last hour and she isn’t sure if he should be evacuated or if he can continue to their planned shelter site. You introduce yourself to Robert and with his consent you begin your assessment of him after putting on your blue nitrile gloves.  Robert, who is 42 years old, complains that he is feeling nauseous and even vomited 30 […]

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Suggested Resource for Land Navigation

Suggested Resource for Land Navigation

Yesterday, at Hartwood Acres County Park, I spent the day teaching “Basic Wilderness Navigation.”  The main goal of this course is twofold.  First, of course, is to provide our students with the fundamentals of using a compass and map so that they can begin to feel more confident as they prepare for, and engage in, their chosen outdoor activities.  But, the second, and arguably the most important goal, is to provide each student with a solid foundation of understanding for their continued self learning.  That’s because, as I stress at the conclusion of our various land navigation courses (not to mention many of our other courses, like wilderness first aid), their training hasn’t ended, rather, it has only just started.  In short, and in common parlance, if you don’t use it, you’re going to lose it.  So, I very often recommend the book, Be Expert with Map and Compass by Bjorn […]

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Survival Skill: Lightning Safety

Survival Skill: Lightning Safety

Now that the warm season of Spring and Summer is upon us, so is the season for thunder and lightning.  The Wilderness Medical Society (WMS) reports that an estimated 400 lightning injuries occur annually.  Still, the chance of death is quite low as the WMS reports, at roughly 40 deaths per year (as compared to approximately 70 flood-related deaths and 30 avalanche-related deaths which occur yearly). Still, who really wants to be struck by lightning?! Whether it is a Wilderness First Aid (WFA) or wilderness survival course, True North likes to believe that prevention is the best form of medicine.  So, since many of us will be spending much time outdoors, especially hiking and camping along the Alleghenies or paddling the Three Rivers and surrounding waterways, and even quite a few of you will be leading groups outdoors and so will be responsible for their safety, I thought that I would share […]

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First Aid Tip: Burns

First Aid Tip: Burns

Now that Summer is almost here, many of us will be spending more time in the out of doors.  That often means either camping, hiking in a local park, or even just lazing around in the backyard (which I fully hope to be doing).  While, certainly, the risk of injury in any of these situations is low, problems can manage to arise.  So, a little knowledge and preparation can go a long way should something happen.  One type of typical outdoor injury is burns, and, in fact, the most common cause arises from cooking accidents. Whether it is caused by your backyard grill or your camp stove, minor burns to your hands may be caused by inadvertently grabbing hot metal; and potentially major burns may arise from stove flare-ups and scalds from tipping over pots of boiling liquid.  In fact, these kind of burns can be more serious than that […]

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Survival: Primitive v. Practical

Survival: Primitive v. Practical

In all of my survival courses at True North, one of the priorities that I most stress is shelter craft, and, likewise, the skill on which I most focus is the ability to quickly make a windproof and waterproof shelter.  This probably wouldn’t surprise many.  However, periodically, I have a student in a course that clearly seems dismayed, even disappointed, when I don’t show them how to make a primitive shelter — You know, the typical “debris hut” made out of sticks and leaves.  In fact, it’s bad enough that the student feels gypped that I didn’t do so, but, worse, she or he sometimes is offended too when I criticize (though, I think “critique” is more fair) such shelters and the instructors who emphasize them.  After all, as I remind all of my students, at True North, our mission, and our passion, is not to foster romantic, idealized notions […]

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Preparation: The Key to Survival

Preparation: The Key to Survival

The key to being best able to get through any emergency is being prepared before it even happens. Learning new skills, and practicing them, then, will help you better and more safely respond when the moment counts. That’s why Pittsburgh firefighters, police, and EMS volunteered yesterday to train along Slippery Rock Creek in McConnell’s Mill State Park yesterday.  Why?  In the wake of the flash flood in August 2011 along Washington Boulevard in the Highland Park section of Pittsburgh that killed four people and stranded many dozens of others, they wanted to be better equipped to handle urban flooding should the same situation ever arise. To learn more about what they did, check out the article in the Tribune Review and their additional photographs: http://triblive.com/news/allegheny/4192672-74/rescue-creek-park#axzz2WK7CvgAP Would you, too, like to be better prepared the next time that you had out on your next outdoor adventure with friends and family — […]

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YMCA Ranger Staff Training

YMCA Ranger Staff Training

I just finished a very busy, but very wonderful, week working with the four leaders of the Ranger Program at YMCA Camp Ockanickon & Matollionequay located in Medford, New Jersey. Monika and Jessica, and Matt and Zach, will be spending this summer leading trips that hike up a portion of the Appalachian Trail through Northeastern Pennsylvania, then paddle down the Delaware River. So we worked together to get them certified in Wilderness First Aid (WFA), learn the fundamentals of land navigation, and develop their backcountry skills as they get ready to soon head out on their own with their groups. With only three days to train, our schedule and work was compressed and intense, not to mention the rain, heat, and ticks. But these four worked extremely hard, and they did so with smiles on their faces, sprinkled with much laughter, the entire time. Trust me, they may have had […]

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More WFA News

More WFA News

True North just completed yesterday a Wilderness First Aid (WFA) course for a great group. Several of them are Boy Scout leaders who are preparing to take their Scouts to Seabase next month, while two others are getting ready to head to Brazil with Engineers Without Borders as part of a development project. Many thanks to all of them!

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WFA News

WFA News

Last night, I started the first of a four session Wilderness First Aid (WFA) course with Scout leaders at BSA Camp Guyasuta in Sharpsburg. Not only are they a great bunch, but Camp Guyasuta is truly a hidden gem. Most people (including me) have been whizzing by it on Route 28 for years, not really knowing that it’s there. Trust me, it is truly a slice of peaceful wilderness tucked away in a largely urban landscape. I’m thinking that True North may need to hold more classes there!

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Butler Outdoors Club Workshop

Butler Outdoors Club Workshop

Erik spent part of his Memorial day with a great group from the Butler Outdoors Club as part of their “Outdoors Extravaganza” teaching them how to build a fire. Now they are better prepared in an emergency to build a knee high fire in the pouring rain in five minutes. Don’t think it can be done? It can. Just ask this group. Don’t know how? Then consider enrolling in one of True North’s upcoming survival courses. Many thanks to Becca for helping out. Hope that you are all enjoy a safe and happy holiday.

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