Archive for the ‘General’ Category

Wilderness First Aid Tip – Playing Safely in Winter

Wilderness First Aid Tip - Playing Safely in Winter

I spoke this morning to my friend, David, who lives just outside of Boston.  He, and the rest of the residents of the Northeast, are bracing for a snow storm that is forecast to blast in from the Great Lakes Region sometime later tomorrow.  But this apparently won’t be just any snow storm.  Forecasters are predicting a “crippling and potentially historic winter storm” that will bring more than 2′ of snow.  Boston has already cancelled school and it is preparing for “one of its worst blizzards of all time.”  I must admit, though, that I am a wee bit jealous of David.  Granted, I am happy enough to let him shovel his driveway and walk, but he and his son are going to have much fun afterwards when the work is done … As will the innumerable New England school kids who will be joining them. But whether you live […]

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Improvisation: Important in the Outdoors … And in Life

Improvisation: Important in the Outdoors ... And in Life

Whether it is a survival situation, or a medical issue, a recurring theme in dealing with an acute emergency in any remote location is the importance of improvisation.  That’s because rarely, if ever, will we have with us an unlimited amount of resources.  In particular, tools, supplies, and, perhaps most importantly, time, will likely be in short supply.  Most often, we will be forced to make due with what little we may have and in a terribly short of amount of time (thus, making an already stressful situation, even more so).  However, this need not necessarily be too bad — In fact, it could actually be an asset.  We just need to train ourselves to do two things.  First, we need to be able to mentally accept that which we can’t change … Or, as a wise old man once elegantly stated, “Embrace the suck!”  And, secondly, we must learn to […]

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Thoughts for a New Year

Thoughts for a New Year

“Heart, be brave.  If you cannot be brave, just go.“ Persian jurist and poet, Jalil ad-Din Muhammed Rumi, penned these words in the 13th century.  They are as true today as they were then. Whether it is sudden emergency situation in the mountains, or a more mundane aspect of our lives, all of us will, at one time or another, become indecisive with, even paralyzed by, fear.  This isn’t simply an expression, but in fact a natural truth.  This is part of your brain’s defense mechanism which has evolved over the eons to keep you safe (just as it has in all land mammals) by gambling that when you spot an approaching predator it won’t notice you standing there frozen so instead passes on or even chases after someone else running away in a panic.  However, sometimes doing nothing can be worse — Just like it doesn’t help the possum or deer in your headlights. […]

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What are the Traits of a Survivor?

What are the Traits of a Survivor?

If anyone is looking for a last minute Christmas gift, then I have terrific recommendation.  One of the best all time books on the subject of survival is Deep Survival: Who Lives, Who Dies, and Why? by Laurence Gonzales. First published in 2004, Gonzales seeks to answer a classic question that has puzzled many of us for so long: Why does survival seem so unpredictable?  For example, why does only one out of a group of five in a lifeboat survive while the rest die?  Or, why does an experienced hunter die overnight, while, in worse conditions, a toddler survives many days?  Using a combination of physiological and psychological analysis, plus true-life case studies, Gonzales weaves a deceptively simple, yet powerful, explanation: Equipment, training, and experience, though helpful in a survival situation, are not decisive … It is what is in your brain and heart that counts. One reason that Gonzales’ book is […]

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The End of the World? Not!

The End of the World? Not!

Unless you tend, like me, to be oblivious of popular culture, then you all know that the end of the world will be tomorrow, Friday, December 21, 2012.  That is just a few, short hours from now. If, though, you are also like me, you are already making plans for this weekend.  In particular, I will be spending Sunday afternoon hiking with my friends, Edie and Celeste, who have invited me out as a guest with their Meet Up group.  Afterwards, the three of us, then, will quite likely head over to Mad Mex in Shadyside for a margarita or two … or three. This so-called Mayan Doomsday Prophecy has been a staple of discussion for about ten years now, probably since just after the humdrum conclusion of Y2K (which I find almost hard to recall now).  Since then it has become a fixture of fear-mongering websites and blogs, books, even […]

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Update – Lexi DeForest

Update - Lexi DeForest

Do you remember Lexi DeForest?  In case you don’t, she is the Colorado State University student who in late August made a video of herself while she laid waiting (painfully) for a Search and Rescue team in a remote section of Wyoming after severely breaking her ankle.  For more information about what happened, please read our original post. Anyway, about a month after her accident, Lexi posted another video.  In it, she provides more information about what caused her to fall and the effort involved afterwards to rescue her.  Like the first one, this video offers us all many great lessons — Chief of which is the power of positive mental attitude.  Happily, Lexi appears to be doing amazingly well. Check it out for yourself:

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Are You Prepared for a “Day Hike”?

Are You Prepared for a "Day Hike"?

While a terrific bunch of folks from Venture Outdoors met in Frick Park with instructors from True North last weekend to learn the basics of dealing with wilderness emergencies, a man in Orgeon started out on a day-hike.  Unlike the VO group, however, this lone hiker apparently wasn’t as concerned about the possibility of unforeseen dangers, or being prepared for them.  At one point, to stay warm, he actually lit his hat and backpack on fire! Earlier in the day, the hiker had set out along a trail (apparently with no map) near the Columbia River Gorge in Oregon that he once followed seven years earlier.  Dressed only in jeans, a cotton tee-shirt, and a windbreaker jacket, he realized by 5:00 pm that he was lost.  Not knowing the time of sunset, he was surprised by the onset of darkness and he had no flashlight.  At 5:40 pm he contacted […]

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Improvisation: The Lifeblood of Survival

Improvisation: The Lifeblood of Survival

This past summer on an EMS call, a paramedic taught me a simple, but important, lesson.  We needed to move a patient from her bed to our stretcher, which we had momentarily left in the foyer, for transport to the hospital.  However, since her bedroom was so tightly packed with furniture, and hallway access to it was also too tight and limited, we weren’t able to bring the stretcher the rest of the way to her bedside.  I assumed, then, I would need to make a run to the ambulance to grab another piece of equipment that is specifically engineered to be used in such instances.  However, the medic simply asked me to grab a sheet off the stretcher.  A sheet?  What good, I thought, could a sheet possibly do us now?  When I handed it to him, he unfolded the sheet next to her, and gently helped her slide […]

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Tourniquet: Fact v. Fiction

Tourniquet: Fact v. Fiction

Recently, I was reading a popular wilderness first-aid handbook that is used to trained thousands of Americans each year and one of the sections really bothered me.  In its outline of how to control severe bleeding, it indicated that a tourniquet is used “only” as a last resort since it may “cause gangrene” and “may require surgical amputation of the limb.”  The handbook also advises that in the event that a tourniquet must be used, that it should be loosened in “five minute” intervals to check if bleeding has stopped and to “allow some blood flow” to the affected limb.  Sounds reasonable enough, right?  Except that it isn’t accurate. According to much medical evidence, the reality is that a tourniquet, used by a trained wilderness first-aid provider, may, in fact, be the initial method of bleeding control in severe extremity bleeding. Much of what the medical community now knows about the […]

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Which Way is North?

Which Way is North?

Being lost … to put it mildly … sucks.  I know.  I’ve been there.  Hopefully, I won’t be returning any time soon. To help keep you from making the same visit, or, at least, to help you keep it as short as possible, I want to call your attention to a small “road sign” that might someday point you towards the right path. But, first, a little background information … Of all of the many stressors that one may suffer in the backcountry, being lost is near the top of the list.  Certainly, it can be a complicating factor, making an already difficult situation worse.  More to the point, though, being lost often forges the first link in a chain of seemingly insignificant and unrelated events that leads to crisis. Why? Because being lost really doesn’t have so much to do with our physical position as it does with our […]

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