CHI: 5 Tips for Backcountry Medicine with NOLS

On an unusually chilly night in November, Mappy Hour Chicago gathered at The North Face Wicker Park for a chat with NOLS (National Outdoor Leadership School) to learn backcountry and wilderness medicine basics.

Over beer and snacks, Chicago-based NOLS instructor Dan Dunne shared NOLS’ guide for “sizing up the scene” or assessing an injured hiker, backpacker, climber, or really anyone at risk and in need of medical help.

Dan’s overview of the basic, 5-step assessment plan is something every NOLS leader learns at the start of their training in backcountry medicine. Here’s the guide, if you didn’t get a chance to make it:

(Pro tip: hands up! Count on each finger as you remember the five steps)

  • Step 1: I’m #1
    Scan for immediate dangers, including yourself, before approaching the patient. If you’re not safe, you’re not able to help anyone.
  • Step 2: What Happened to You?
    Assess the location, severity of the injury, and other indicators of the patient’s situation. Jot down what you can in your notebook or phone to track and report accordingly to doctors once they make it to the scene.
  • Step 3: Not on, Me!
    Body substance isolation (BSI) should be top of mind – meaning you want to avoid any bodily fluids from the patient in the case they’re contagious or diseased.
  • Step 4: Any More?
    If there are any other patients, which need the most attention? Prioritization based on immediate needs is key.
  • Step 5: Dead or Alive
    Act quick, act fact, but act smart to ultimately determine the patient’s current state.

The hands-on training had some Mappy Hour folks getting creative with in-store props (clothing hangers, winter jackets, and scarves) – building mock splints, quick-fix slings, and other make-shift equipment to support “patients” at the scene of the emergency.

We also had a great turnout of explorers logging their adventures from the The Chicago Explore More Challenge, which is in full swing through August 2020!

As always, a huge thanks to Revolution Brewery who supplied drinks, Dan and the rest of the NOLS team, and The North Face for hosting us.

Keep an eye out for our next event on the Mappy Hour Chicago chapter page.

Until next time!

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