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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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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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