Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Wilderness First Aid

I signed up for a Wilderness First Aid course at Heartland Community College this summer. Gregg told me about it a few weeks ago and it intrigued me. I looked it up online, the cost was reasonable ($89), and it meets at night so it fit with my work schedule. The only problem with the WFA course is that I'll have to skip a few hours of running one night to attend the class--it conflicts with the Buffalo Trace 7-Day Stage Race. Yikes. It's a good excuse to take a break and justify low miles that day. Anyway, it sounds like a cool course. You get 3 required texts included with the registration fee. Among other things, you learn about exposure, shock, insect & animal bites, fractures, altitude sickness, and even sucking chest wounds! In addition to treating injuries, the course covers preventative measures and evacuation plans. Not bad for a month-long course that costs less than $100. I guess next year at the Clinton Lake ultra, if you break your leg, I'll be able to splint it with a tree limb and drag you back to safety. No promises.

When I enrolled in the Wilderness First Aid course, it said "current CPR certification is recommended, but not required." I used to get annual CPR training, but my certification expired many, many years ago. So I signed up for an American Red Cross CPR training class too! There are local chapters providing CPR and AED training in almost every community (local fire departments often provide the same type of trainings). Again, for a small fee ($35), I'll be trained and certified in adult CPR and the use of an automated external defibrillator (AED). As a race director, I feel that I should have at least some basic training in first aid and CPR. I suppose every aid station crew should have one trained volunteer too. I'm surprised that RRCA or race insurance policies don't require minimal training standards of race officials. If all race directors were trained in CPR and AEDs, and they actually had an AED, we might prevent a few race deaths every year. In remote trail ultras, where official medical assistance is far away, the need is even greater (and the expenses more justified). I wonder if it'll ever be mandated?

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