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Some Course Evaluation Comments

Some Course Evaluation Comments

Back in November, True North ran a training program for Venture Outdoors, an outdoors non-profit based in Pittsburgh, for its staff and volunteer trip leaders.  The goal was to help prepare them to better handle emergencies during their various trips by giving them a real-world scenario to utilize their Wilderness First Aid (WFA) and CPR training. Earlier this week, I saw the evaluations that Venture Outdoors had received from its participants.  Here are just some of the questions and what the participants had to write: Did the provided training description match the activity? It went beyond what we thought it would be. How satisfied were you with the instructors? Inspiration. Top notch, very qualified, very organized. Excellent.  Have taken two other terrific classes with Erik before. How comfortable were you with the material BEFORE participating in this workshop? I thought that I knew what to expect until Erik threw us […]

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9-1-1 can Easily Track my Cell Phone, Right?

9-1-1 can Easily Track my Cell Phone, Right?

You are out on a hike with a friend when you finally must concede that you are lost.  Of course, you have been trying these last few hours to find the right trail, but the sun is beginning to set and it is starting to get cold.  The prospect, then, of being forced to spend the night in the dark woods has you now more scared than you might otherwise have thought.  But, wait, there is a ray of hope!  You have a cell phone.  You’ll just dial 9-1-1 and those EMS dispatchers will have a rescue team sent to your exact location in a jiffy.  Right? The reality is … Maybe. A recent series of studies conducted by Find Me 911 indicates that EMS dispatchers can only trace a mobile telephone’s location only around 33% to 50% of the time. I don’t know about you, but I find the prospect […]

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Nevada Family Rescue Update

Nevada Family Rescue Update

A family in Nevada, who had gotten themselves stranded in a remote area after an afternoon of sledding, were rescued after spending two days in sub-zero temperatures.  While each member of the family needed to be treated in the hospital for dehydration and mild hypothermia, they were in otherwise great condition. Details have emerged since their rescue of how much their father did to improvise and adapt to their situation to keep everyone safe. To learn more about what he did, check out this video:   Would you like to learn how you can better take care of yourself and others during a wilderness emergency?  Then consider taking one of our upcoming wilderness survival or Wilderness First Aid (WFA) courses in 2014.

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What Do You Carry in Your “Day” Pack?

What Do You Carry in Your "Day" Pack?

Yesterday, news station WNEP reported that in Gouldsboro State Park, located in Northeastern Pennsylvania, a search began for a lost woman who had gotten separated earlier in the day from her companion while on a day hike.  Happily, the search ended after four hours as a rescue.  However, if she hadn’t been found before nightfall, this event could have easily been now reported as a body recovery.  Why?  Because the pair had prepared their backpacks only for a “day hike,” and not for current conditions, let alone an unexpected overnight. While waiting to be found, what made the situation difficult, even painful, for the hiker was the sudden drop in temperatures yesterday to below freezing.  Although temperatures had been chilly most of last week, they were largely seasonal, even mild.  In fact, I did yard work on Saturday wearing a light jacket and shorts.  However, temperatures surprised many of us […]

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A Thank You from Venture Outdoors

A Thank You from Venture Outdoors

Last Sunday, True North ran a training program for the folks at Venture Outdoors, a non-profit organization based in Pittsburgh whose mission is to make outdoor activities, like hiking, climbing, and paddling, more accessible to people of all ages and experience levels.  As such, its staff and volunteer trip leaders need to know, not just how to run a smooth program, but how to deal with the unexpected.  So last week’s program was designed to help them better prepare for outdoor medical emergencies. Today, we received a really nice thank you note from them: “Thank you for arranging a fantastic training for VO staff and volunteer leaders. The real-time emergency response with actual EMS made the scenario incredibly realistic.  We look forward to setting up more outings with you in the future!“ But the simple truth is that this event wouldn’t have been such a success had it not been for […]

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Did He Really Need to Eat his Dog?

Did He Really Need to Eat his Dog?

The first words of a man recently rescued and recovering in a Canadian hospital after surviving almost three months along the Nottaway River, about 800 km from Montreal, are reported by the Daily Mail to be, “I want a new dog.” What happend to the old one? He ate it. When I read the initial accounts of this incident in the news last week, it sounded like an amazing story of survival.  Especially since, after spending so long stranded in a region where many others before him never even returned, his discovery and rescue was so dramatic.  Adding to it were the reports that he was forced to eat his “beloved” dog to stay alive.  I continued to follow this story because such incidents can be good learning tools by letting us learn from others’ successes and failures. But when I read the various timelines (like another Daily Mail article) […]

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An Evening with YMCA Indian Guides

An Evening with YMCA Indian Guides

I spent a really enjoyable evening around a campfire this past Friday evening with roughly 150 Indian Guides and their fathers at YMCA Camp Kon-O-Kwee Spencer.  Conveniently located in Frombell, Pennsylvania, about an hours drive north of Pittsburgh, the camp provided a wonderful setting to help kick off their weekend. The theme of their weekend was “Wilderness Survival” so the group had asked me to show them the basics of making a fire and to introduce them to wilderness survival. The YMCA Indian Guides program is designed to foster companionship between a father and his son through such shared activities as campouts, monthly meetings, community outings, and competitions.  This particular group hails from the Wexford, Pennsylvania area, and the ages of the children is between 5 and 8 years old. Right on time at 8:30 that evening, a long stream of kids and parents marched single file through the dark […]

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Upcoming EMS Lecture

Upcoming EMS Lecture

True North is very pleased to announce that it will be participating in the “UPMC Morning of Education” on Friday, October 18 sponsored and organized by UPMC Prehospital Care.  This purpose of this event is to provide continuing-education training and credits to EMS personnel and other medical professionals in and around the Western Pennsylvania region. The theme of the program is the “Outdoors” so all of the lectures will focus on emergency medicine issues in remote locations where definitive medical care is delayed. Erik will kick off the day with his lecture “Cool Lessons: Dealing with Hypothermia in the Backcountry.”  He will then be followed by two physicians who will each talk about altitude sickness, then the treatment of venomous snakebites. All in all, it should be an informative and fun day … Especially since it will which will be held at the Pittsburgh Zoo!

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Drink Your Urine?

Drink Your Urine?

One of the most common questions that I am asked during one of my wilderness first aid or wilderness survival courses, or during a lecture, is the the following:  “Is it okay during a survival situation to drink one’s urine?” This definitely is a good question for several reasons, most of all, since it is being asked within the context of helping to stave off dehydration, the idea appears to make sense.  After all, as one may reason, if one is dehydrated, one needs water, so one shouldn’t waste it, even if it is one’s own bodily waste product.  More to the point, however, so many people ask the question because they have seen it discussed and done so many times on so-called reality television programs.  This wouldn’t be so bad except that there are people who, during a wilderness emergency, actually have resorted to drinking their urine. So, what […]

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Into The Wild – Is the Mystery Solved?

Into The Wild - Is the Mystery Solved?

It seems that stories about the struggle to survive and overcome great odds in the unforgiving wilderness rarely endure.  Sure, an account may effect big headlines in the newspapers, and people may actively chatter about it amongst themselves with particular emphasis on the gory details, but even this quickly fades and people just as quickly forget.  While many know the basic facts about the Donner Party, few seem to know the real details, much of it inspiring, and fewer still seem to know anything about the U.S.S. Indianapolis.  This is a shame … For them, and for us. However, the story about the death of Christopher McCandless, who in 1992 slowly starved in an isolated bus near Denali National Park long endures.  Many of us, of course, read the accounts that Jon Krakauer wrote, first in Outside in 1993, and later in his 1996 book, Into the Wild.  And, certainly, the […]

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