JLo, here, tagging on to Amy’s “My Life as a WFR Student – Day 1” entry. I thought it might be insightful for students to get a glimpse into Day 1 of a Wilderness First Responder course from an instructor’s point of view.
The first day of any course, but especially a 9-day course, is always a nerve-racking experience for an instructor of wilderness medicine. We, like the students, leave whatever life we were living rather abruptly for that of a classroom filled with people who will become stinker and closer over the next week. I always get fired up to meet that special group of outdoor enthusiasts. And Amy’s right: we all come from so many different backgrounds! Some students have an immense wealth of experience, re-certifying their WFR for the umpteenth time. Others come with little outdoor experience and are second guessing if dropping over $500 and committing 9-days of their life to a “woofer” course is really what they should have done with the time and money (“What about that climbing trip and that new piece of trad gear…? And what’s a ‘woofer’ anyway?”). Regardless of our backgrounds, though, we’ve all come to learn from each other and gain vital knowledge and skills along the way.
We at WMI of NOLS are careful to set the first day off to a good start. As an instructor, it’s important that people feel welcome and know that they are entering into an open and safe learning environment. We all have stories of arrogant and rude teachers of the past and while no one is perfect, we at WMI work hard to bring our collective experience as wilderness trip leaders and medical care providers to the table in order to serve the students and their learning experience in a humble way. We learn from each other in our courses. And we have fun. We believe that people learn best when they have appropriate fun while learning.
While a wilderness medicine course is fast paced and we cover a lot of information and practical hands-on experiences, as instructors, we think its important to stay in tune to our students’ needs and adapt our teaching to help facilitate learning that will be meaningful and stick with our students. We want you to succeed – both in this course and when you’re faced with providing care during a medical emergency 6 months – 2 years from now. But in order to do that, we start with the basics on Day 1: the safety of the care provider (you!) at the scene of an emergency and the ABCs: Airway, Breathing, Circulation. By the end of Day 1, I always feel good about what’s to come: another 8 days of getting to know students as we all work towards being better wilderness medicine providers.
I look forward to meeting you on Day 1!