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Elective Rotation: Wilderness First Responder Certification

Contact: William Elder Jr.

Location: Steamboat, CO

I completed an 80 week course to get my Wilderness First Responder (WFR) certification in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. While I would have preferred to do AWLS (Advanced Wilderness Life Support) it was not offered at the time, but WFR was still worthwhile additional training. Learning to treat and triage with only the limited supplies available in the backcountry is an entirely different world than practicing medicine in the hospital or clinic. Some of the areas I found the most useful to get additional insight into were altitude sicknesses (HAPE, HACE, AMS), lightning safety, proper tourniquet indications/application, diabetes at high altitude (e.g. glucometers become less accurate above 10,000 ft), and calling a helicopter/choosing a landing site/helicopter safety. I also took on the role of Incident Command during our night scenario (a hot-air balloon crash) and coordinated a team of 16 WFRs to help triage/treat/evac patients from a nearby forest.

I would encourage future residents to pursue the AWLS course as it appears to be more advanced training and is a shorter course overall.

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