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Nursing Education Wilderness First Aid & First Responder

Thousands of people enjoy the entertainment offered by wilderness excursions each year. Camping, hiking, rock climbing, white water rafting and snowboarding represent popular outdoor activities. The popularity of outdoor activities contributes to the number of people injured while pursuing wilderness activities. More than 70% of nonfatal wilderness injuries involve soft-tissue and musculoskeletal injuries. People also experience injury through exposure; heat exhaustion, heat stroke and hypothermia. In addition, contact with wild animals, including bears and venomous snakes also contributes to human injuries. Consequently, wilderness areas, such as national parks, need professionals trained in first response, wilderness first aid and wilderness emergency care.

First responders are available to assist individuals who experience life-threatening trauma. In general, first responders include firefighters, police and emergency medical technicians. The National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians delivers the certification required to obtain work as a first responder or emergency medical technician. First responders generally arrive at the scene of events that occur in residential or business areas. The wilderness first aid professional can deliver life-saving services in remote locations, such as mountains or camping grounds. These professionals understand specific concerns with outdoor activities, including how to scale difficult terrain and extract victims from remote locations. Wilderness emergency care requires that professionals understand some specific medical concerns, such as the golden hour. The golden hour refers to a short period of time in which an individual might avoid death if she receives the appropriate care. There exist several differences in first aid, emergency care and first responder certifications. First aid certification delivers the minimum skills required to assist people with minor injuries. First responder certification validates a person's understanding of life-sustaining and resuscitation techniques. Wilderness certification delivers a credential that validates an individual's understanding of complicated extraction cases coupled with the knowledge required to perform life-saving tasks.

People who participate in outdoor activities are exposed to a range of possible health concerns. Exposure to the elements can create a range of life-threatening conditions. For example, heat exhaustion and heat stroke can occur in hot weather conditions. Heat exhaustion-the first sign that can lead to heat stroke-occurs when a person's body begins to overheat. People who do not heed the signs of heat exhaustion can easily progress to heat stroke. In addition, under cold conditions, hypothermia-a life threatening condition-can occur and cause the loss of limbs, fingers and toes. Venomous bites from a range of animals, including snakes or fire ants, can create a host of problems. Some people suffer from severe allergic reactions to animal venom and might experience an anaphylactic response. Broken bones, lacerations and fractures also require emergency care, because these injuries can lead to the deterioration of an individual's ability to care for himself and cause further injury.

Wilderness survival skills contribute significantly to an individual's ability to prevent injury, care for an injured person and sustain life in difficult situations. People who take several outdoor excursions should understand the basics of wilderness survival skills, including the construction of a shelter, the creation of fire, securing water and capturing food. In addition to these skills, knowledge of first aid can improve a person's chance of survival. Wilderness first aid requires knowledge of the administration of medical services for a range of conditions. People who regularly participate in wilderness activities should understand how to set broken bones, stitch wounds and treat exposure, at minimum, to extend life during the golden hour.