Teaching Prevention in Wilderness Medicine Courses


Remote Medical International was recently referenced at a conference during a panel discussion on Wilderness Medicine and Outdoor Education. One of the members of the panel made reference to our company as, “Only training people who actually practice these skills,” in the context of the importance of prevention. I should start by explaining that we accept this criticism as one of our highest complements, that those who actually use their skills choose Remote Medical International as a training provider.

As far as prevention is concerned, students will find in all our classes that it is a key focus when applied to specific injuries and illness. We believe that it is flat-out irresponsible to teach treatment without prevention, and in fact, prevention should be the first step in pro-active treatment. This is evident by the first pages of our Wilderness First Responder Field Guide, starting off the course with the concept of the “Medical Officer” as the person in charge of health and emergency planning in various phases of the operation. This is taken directly from our Medical & Rescue Support group and our experience providing medical and rescue support for large groups in very remote settings. Field practices, medical protocols and operations are the domain of wilderness risk management courses, not wilderness medicine training.

One of the distinguishing factors in our training is that we pro-actively emphasize pre-planning, and the role of our students in leading this effort. This common theme is an ever-present dimension of each course, from Wilderness First Aid to Remote Medicine for Advanced Providers.

While hiring a physician for medical support, one of our staff physicians commented that, “We need a doctor who would go to Africa and build a water treatment system instead of prescribe antibiotics to the entire town for water-borne illness.” Perhaps this is why our main challenge in medical support projects is explaining to the client why the injury rate falls so drastically when our medics are there – that the role of the Wilderness First Responder, or any Wilderness Medical provider is to first and foremost pro-actively ensure the safety of her team. However, should an emergency occur, they should respond with the best training and skill-set possible.

 

Leave a Reply