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Wilderness First Responder

Tess

Tess after surviving one of our training situations.

Well I passed my Wilderness First Responder Class!  It was a long, challenging week and a half, but I’m really glad I did it!  It was a wonderful experience for many reasons.  The WFR certificate is the equivalent of an EMT, but the difference is, the WFR emphasis is on wilderness medicine where medical help might be hours or days away.

Why was this such a great experience?  First, the sheer amount of knowledge that is imparted is amazing.  Not only did I learn an incredible amount, but then being able to apply it in very real life wilderness situations just added a whole level to the learning process.

But, all this material wouldn’t have amounted to much if it wasn’t for people like our lead instructor Deb Ajango.  Her endless real life Alaska stories were alone worth the price of the course!  She has seen and done it all, I don’t think I have even had a more interesting educator.

Finally was the group of people I meet and worked with as part of this class.  By it’s nature, the students in a class like this are the kind of people I find interesting – people making a living in the outdoors.  The kind of people who make career decisions based more on lifestyle then financial gain.  So the class is made up of kayak,  climbing and hiking guides, and in Seward, kayak guides are definitely the majority.   As the class progresses, this wonderful bonding experience is created as the group overcomes challenging, even stressful training.

So couple great material, a fantastic instructor and a wonderful group of students and I must admit, this class ended up being a far great experience then I ever expected!  Hopefully I’ll never need to use these new skills, but it is sure nice to know they  are there.

 

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About the author: Ron Niebrugge is an Alaska based outdoor photographer specializing in landscapes, wildlife and travel photography. Ron shares his travels and adventures here on the blog. To see more photos, or to learn about Ron’s photo tours and workshops, visit our main photo website.

{ 4 comments… add one }

  • Russ Bishop April 29, 2014, 2:56 pm

    Congrats Ron! I’m sure that was a very rewarding experience (and a real confidence builder for your next wilderness excursion).

  • Ron Niebrugge April 29, 2014, 3:09 pm

    Thanks Russ! Yes, that is definitely true!

  • Jackson Frishman April 30, 2014, 2:11 pm

    Good for you, Ron! I’ve been a WFR for fifteen years or so, and it’s a rewarding field of knowledge to participate in. Full WFR is probably overkill for most landscape photographers, but every one of us ought to consider at least a Wilderness First Aid course. And the fact is, you will indeed use some of those skills, very likely on yourself, though I hope never for true threats to life and limb. I’ve never (knock on wood) had to put someone on a backboard, pull traction on a femur or anything super dramatic like that. But I’ve spotted and made logistical decisions involving AMS and hyponatremia, fixed lots of minor scrapes, examined folks for hidden injuries after scary falls, and set my own dislocated finger. The reality is, stuff happens out there, and it’s good to have a framework for dealing with it.

  • Ron Niebrugge April 30, 2014, 7:14 pm

    Hey Jackson – thanks for sharing your experience! Yes, a WFA was probably enough, although I sure don’t regret the extra knowledge. Now that I do more and more tours in remote places, I feel better having this knowledge that is for sure. Thanks again!

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