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Camping & Safety

Camping & Safety

I just spent a very nice morning with a group of wonderfully energetic children from Tender Care Learning Center in Monroeville, Pennsylvania.  The goal of the workshop was to provide them an introduction to camping and safety. Aged between 7 and 10 years old, the kids learned about the parts of a tent and how to set it up.  Then, they all spent some time crawling in and out … which I think they all thought was the best part of the program! Then we talked about what to do should they every become lost in the woods.  First and foremost, they learned about the importance of carrying a whistle and how to properly blow it.  They I should them how to use a plastic trash bag as shelter.  Hopefully, they will never need to use these skills, but should they ever become separated from there family, they’ll be better prepared.

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Lightning & Water Safety

Lightning & Water Safety

The Summer is a particularly wonderful time to head out on to the water in a kayak or canoe, but it brings up a safety issue that confuses many … What do I do if I hear thunder, or, worse, see lighting? To start, get off of the water at the first sound of thunder or lightning.  Even if the storm looks to be far away, lightening can still be a real life threat.  After all, by the simple nature of your activity, you are most likely going to be the highest point around and as the National Weather Service reports the “vast majority of lightning injuries and deaths” that occur on boats involve small ones “with NO cabin.”  Also, while I’ve read studies that indicate that most lightning strikes occur within a 3-5 mile range, I’ve also read others that indicate that it is not unusual for lightning  to travel 10-20 miles […]

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First Aid Skill: PRICE

First Aid Skill: PRICE

In any kind of wilderness medical training course, whether it is geared towards the lay provider or the professional one, I have often found that students are most interested in, and most focused on, learning how to treat dramatic injuries.  So topics that include broken extremities, wild animal attacks, tension pneumothorax, dysentery, and cholera, amongst a long list of others, tend to get the most attention and session time.  Not that I am inadvertently casting stones … Heck, my favorite lesson lately was about the field-expedient amputation and disarticulation.  But the simple fact of the matter is that in a wilderness setting, it is the “boring” injuries and illnesses that are the most common.  For this reasons, then, most of my time and effort is spent continuing to learn about and refresh my skills concerning the basics. Since research consistently shows that in the out of doors sprains and strains are […]

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True North on Television!

True North on Television!

True North is very pleased to announce that it was featured yesterday in a two part story on KDKA News. After spending two days with reporter, David Highfield, and cameraman, Ian Smith, a few weeks ago (about which you can read in a previous blog, “True North prepares for Television“), the story finally aired in a two part series.  The first, during the 5:00 hour, showed David tagging along with a group of students during a “Basic Wilderness Survival” course as he learned about survival training.  Then, in the second piece which aired at 11:00, David worked to demonstrate some of his new found skills … including starting a fire as it rained! Anyway, you can just watch for yourself by clicking on the following two links: 1. Teaser (that ran throughout the day leading up to broadcasts) 2. Broadcast (David’s article includes the two video links) Thank you, David and Ian, […]

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True North prepares for Television!

True North prepares for Television! Read more

Free Lecture – Packing Healthy Food for the Great Outdoors

Free Lecture - Packing Healthy Food for the Great Outdoors

True North is very pleased to announce an upcoming lecture by Adam Haritan of Wild Foodism, which will be hosted by Whole Foods Market in Pittsburgh.  This free event will be held on Thursday, May 29 from 6:30-8:00. A successful outdoor adventure involves not only quality gear, but quality food too.  Most trail food products, however, are expensive, and they contain high amounts of sodium, sugar, and preservatives.  Adam, who is an experienced backpacker and graduate of True North’s “Basic Wilderness Survival” course, will discuss alternative strategies for preparing and packing cost-effective healthy food that provides ample fuel and nutrients – without sacrificing taste and pleasure.  Other topics to be explored include the value of wild food foraging, backpacking with only three key foods, and locating and harvesting clean spring water.  This is a class all backpackers, campers, and outdoor enthusiasts won’t want to miss! While this event is free, space […]

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Controlling Severe Bleeding

Controlling Severe Bleeding

I have been working on a side project these last few weeks and thought that I would share some of the information that I have gathered regarding it.  It is arguably more geared towards the professional first responder, but it may interest and benefit many of you who are lay responders too.  After all, I am a strong advocate of the principle that, no matter one’s level of training, it is important to continually practice and learn so that one may keep one’s skills sharp and up to date.  Certainly, being prepared to protect oneself when an emergency arises, and to do the same for others, is a fundamentally important component of wilderness survival. Whether we are professional or lay trained, we all know that in a medical emergency uncontrolled bleeding is a clear life threat.  Sometimes, unlike in the photograph posted above (which I only chose to illustrate a […]

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First Aid Skill – How to remove a Ring

First Aid Skill - How to remove a Ring

Although removing a ring from a swollen finger may not appear like a relevant survival or first aid skill, it can actually be quite important.  After all, if even one of your hands starts to become increasingly useless due to swelling and pain, then the odds of you being able to protect yourself, or others, in a wilderness survival situation diminishes steadily.  So, while various removal techniques may not be glamorous enough to be featured on one of the popularly scripted “survival” shows, you may want to still consider listening up. The main issue is that there exists the real possibility of lasting damage to, or complete loss of, the finger due to the blockage of the blood flow to it.  This could occur due to some trauma where the finger, hand, arm, or even some other part of the body is injured, such that swelling is a common physical […]

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Thought for the Day

Thought for the Day

I thought that I would share with you an interesting idea that I just read while sitting on the couch at my EMS station.  It comes from a book that that I have been reading, Surviving Survival: The Art and Science of Resilience, by Laurence Gonzales.  In short, the book is about dealing with post-traumatic stress. Gonzales writes that when one is in the midst of a crisis, while it can seem that the pain and distress will go on forever, it isn’t true.  Rather, pleasure, laughter, even peace and happiness almost always follow. In fact, he suggests that the waiting time in between can be sped up by following three simple steps: Do something that you love. Do something for someone who needs you. And be with people who care about you. His paragraph really struck me.  It is something that I think that we can all agree is true, […]

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Equipment – Some Things are Just Worth the Price

Equipment - Some Things are Just Worth the Price

The Great Outdoors is a wonderful place to recreate physically and spiritually.  Even better, in many cases, you can do so without spending a dime.  Few other things in life are more wonderfully egalitarian.  However, “without spending a dime” is just a manner of speaking, of course.  Because for the most part, no matter, how economical we may want to be when we spend time engaged in some chosen activity under the sun or stars, the basic reality is that we must spend some amount of money.  It could be just to buy a simple pair of hiking boots, a hat, a fishing pole, or the fuel that we pump into our car’s tank.  How one chooses, then, to buy any apparently necessary items most likely depends on a number of criteria.  A good set of starting points most likely are the chosen activity, one’s skill level, degree of commitment, […]

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