February 2014

20 New EMT's!!!

Well, it is hard to believe that our January EMT Intensive has come and gone. All 20 of our students passed the course final and practical exams with flying colors. As students reported on their clinical experiences, it was obvious that western NC was a busy place over the last three weeks. Many of our students had previous WFR certfications - leaving our course as WEMT's.  And many are joining us for the WMI Wilderness Upgrade for Medical Professionals WUMP that finishes off the last week of January - hope the weather is awful!  Instructors Justin Padgett and Deane Hodde say that they are really pleased with the social interaction, comradery and hard work from this EMT course.  It is easy to train good people to be great EMTs!

Ecuador: One Student's Life Changing Experience

Hola Padge, This is Alexa Humphreys. I completed Landmark Learning's EMT Basic course this past July. I wanted to thank you and your staff immensely for your teachings and for connecting me with MINGAI in Ecuador. I volunteered with them as a relief medic and had a life changing experience. I wrote about the experience here:  Hope all is well in North Carolina! Best regards, Alexa Humphreys

EMT 2014 Scholarship Winner!

It has taken three weeks, 169 hours, 1069 pages of texts, 23 exams, 20 study buddies and copious cups of coffee to make the transformation from the desire to help to the ability to respond as a proud and qualified EMT.  My journey began on Monday morning with basic orientation.  By Wednesday I was practicing with basic tools of the trade; a BP cuff and stethoscope.  I couldn’t believe it by the time Saturday rolled around and I was already riding in the back of a bumpy ambulance putting cardiac leads on patients.  While enthusiasm for learning passed the first week quickly, the second week was a challenge.   Laden with medical nomenclature and complicated theories week two took perseverance.   The humor and insight of my teachers and the culture of care created by my classmates brought us through hump week.  The last week, we were reborn.  The end was near and it was so inspiring to see how far we had come and all that we had accomplished.  It is astounding to think we had the basics of how to extract patients from vehicles, perform emergency childbirth or more likely transport an elderly citizen with care and comfort.  The last week we took the medical knowledge of our books and lectures along with the respect for the element of service bequeathed by our instructors and solidified the emergency portion of our field.  Timing our practices, bolstering our confidence, and streamlining our responses the entire class resembled a team of professionals.

It is important to note that the quality of the transformation was a process of well-designed education and experience facilitated by professionals and accompanied by a tremendous community. At the foundation was academic education coupled with practice. 

Scenario after scenario, scene size up after scene size up, over and over again we practiced the triangle of assessment and treatment until the flow and process were a part of our being. The foundation was set with a series or 3 clinicals with local EMS. The real world experience vis a vis the academic.   3 ambulance ride-alongs, 6 paramedic mentors, and 5 memorable patients gave me a snapshot of what I could expect in my future. 6 teachers served as our role models, guides and gurus.  Padj and Dean played the classroom like a touring slapstick duo. Joining them were a cadre of teachers from all walks adding depth and understanding to the field.  These educators were the nuts and bolts.  They secured our foundation with the strength of their experience and knowledge.  As they retold stories from the field with emotion in their heart they drove home their points with precision.  If my constitution buckled from stress or doubt, they were there to reinforce the frame.   

Above all they held up the reverence for the Service aspect of EMS above all else. They taught this with their words and with their actions. As I embark into the field of medical service I know I will be an excellent EMT  if I can provide to my patients even just half of what this experience and these teachers have given to me.   Moira Murphy

EMT: Week 2
Clinicals are going strong as the second week of our EMT course comes to an end.  Lots of material covered in this second week giving foundation to medical calls the EMT is likely to encounter.  Hands-on scenarios have been bringing classroom context into perspective.


Last month, 3 men from South Carolina placed a call for help while hiking together from Mollie’s Ridge shelter [on the Appalachian Trail]. Temperatures were plummeting and the men discovered they were not prepared for the 10-day backpack trip they had planned through the park.

When rescue efforts were underway by 1:30am several hours later, more information had come in detailing a more accurate pinpoint of the hikers location but also coupled with the news that the men were hypothermic and in a state of panic.

With a plan in place, rescuers were able to find and airlift the men to safety. After the incident, Justin Padgett, Jackson County paramedic and executive director of Landmark Learning,  was called on to provide tips for staying safe with severe weather before heading outdoors.

• Bring plenty of food. Your body will burn energy quickly when temperatures drop, so plan for bigger meals — and more of them, too, in case something unexpected happens. Cut up blocky foods like cheese and protein bars in advance so they’re easier to eat when frozen, and pack the diversity of foods your body needs to perform. 

“It’s kind of like building a fire,” Padgett said. “The carbs are the spark, the protein is a medium-sized log and the fat is like a big yule log to keep you going.”

• Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. In the cold, dehydration can sneak up on you before you realize it. Dry air and wind can wick away moisture like nothing else, so bring plenty of water, drink often and make sure you have a plan in place to keep it from freezing. 

• Layer up. Wear synthetic fabrics, not natural fibers like cotton, because synthetics are better at wicking away moisture. Keep your base layer clean and dry, and avoid sweating. “If you’re hiking too fast and you start to sweat, you need to stop or take a layer off,” Padgett said. “Most people that get in trouble, they get wet.”

• Keep your extremities in motion. Keep your fingers and toes wiggling so that the blood keeps circulating.

“When your hands and feet stop having a central nervous system response of pain and uncomfyness, that’s the beginning of trouble,” Padgett said.

• Be aware of the time. In the wintertime, the sun sets early, and temperatures drop sharply at night. Plan to be at the shelter well in advance of sundown, and pack for a cold night.

You can read the entire article "A Winter Rescue"  in the Smoky Mountain News here. You can check out a list of emergency medical training courses for wilderness first responders at Landmark Learning here, or click here to register for courses.


WFR and Wilderness First Responder Recertification in Florida

Rob and Jason just wrapped up 2 weeks in Florida with the North Carolina Outward Bound School.  We heard rumors of snow and sub-zero temperatures in the north, but other than 1 surprise morning of frost we had beautiful warm days in the orange groves near the Cape Canaveral National Seashore.  We ran a Wilderness First Responder as well as a Wilderness First Responder Recertification in the community of Scottmoor.  Thanks NCOBS and thanks to our students for a break from the winter weather!  We're looking forward to seeing you next year!

NOLS WMI Wilderness First Responder at Brevard College

The folks out at Brevard College did a stellar job at hosting another successful NOLS WMI Wilderness First Responder course in January. Landmark Learning’s two instructors Kevin Williams, and Scott Lipscomb instructed the 9 day course. We had a mixed bag of weather changing from warm to frigid temperatures. This provided our 17 students with an additional but realistic challenge for patient care. Even with the changing weather patterns our students rose to the challenge and prepared for contingencies which included a windy 15 degree night in the woods. Good job and praises from the instructional staff to the 17 new WFR’s out of Brevard!    

WUMP at Black Mountain

The January Wilderness Upgrade for Medical Professionals(WUMP) was filled with folks from around the country.  In our mix were Medical Docs, Nurses, Nurse Practitioners, EMT's and Paramedics.  We were quite fortunate to have some cold and white winter weather. In fact in this pic, students are providing medical care to a patient that spent the night out lost in 6 F degrees.  Just another day of saving lives for our confident and thorough wilderness medical providers.

Thanks to all the students who came together to participate in the WUMP curriculum.  It is always amazing to see the learning and sharing communities that form during these courses. Everyone learns new stuff - including the instructional staff in these experience rich environments! Very proud of our new EMT's that shined like bright little WEMT lights scattered through the woods on our late night rescue!


WFR Recertification In Eastern KY

I headed up to Eastern Kentucky University to teach a WFR Recertification course to 13 great folks.  It was a pleasant surprise to see some familiar faces from past WFRs and past recertification courses. With lingering low temps from the polar vortex, these folks kept warm like it was their business!  They got to brush up on their skills and get new curriculum updates since their last WFR course.  Good luck to everyone and hope to see you again down the road!

WFR at University of Kentucky

Wow! What a WFR!  I'm home reflecting on the awesome course that Laura Bonner and I just completed at the University of Kentucky.  This was one of the more challenging Wilderness First Responder courses I am aware of.  The students were engaged and excited to learn, but a negative 10 degree Fairenheit temperature made frostbite a real possibility.  We gathered together as a full class of 30 at McConnell Springs Park in Lexington and bonded together over the 9 days.  Although this was not the most wilderness of environments, we all felt the realities of the wilderness in our outdoor scenarios.  I am very pleased with the effort everyone put into this experience, and I am hopeful that though ready, real life experiences will be minimal.

EMT Week 1: Black Mountain, NC
With great fortune, all students were able to arrive safely through winter's fierce cold to begin their EMS journey.   It was -1 degree.
The week has been solid for learning here at the Ridgecrest facility just outside of Black Mountain, NC.  This is our second year at this facility.  With a strong start in the classroom and ending the week with a field trip to Buncombe County Rescue, students eagerly begin their clinical experiences in the field beginning Friday.