May 2014

Instructors Eric Wakild and Kevin Williams finished up their May road trip with an amazing Wilderness First Responder at Middle Tennessee State University. Congrats to all 29 student who finished this course with flying colors. Our students ranged from NOLS field staff, Med Students, College Outdoor Program Trip Leaders, Wilderness Therapy Trip Leaders, and many of whom just loved playing outside. The students were engaged from the beginning and always looking to know more at the end of that day. Thanks to the folks out at MTSU that hosted this course and house many of our students on site. See yall soon! 

Dan Payton and Eli Helbert had a great time at the Blowing Rock Conference Center this past week and a half.  Our team of 24 Appalachian State University students from the outdoor recreation department had spectacular weather for our learning experience.  Daily views of Grandfather Mountain, fun and learning in the gymnatorium, and a night search for Boojum make this WFR special in our memories.  Congrats to all the new WFR's and best of luck to our 2014 graduates!

The Clemson WFR kicked off with eight students from all over the southeast/ Midwest with diverse backgrounds with a common interest in Wilderness Medicine.  The students enjoyed beautiful spring weather as they were challenged to apply the skills they were learning during scenarios on the campus of Clemson Univ.  With such a small group instructors Deane & Scott were able to spend ample time with each student and really do some “fine tuning” through out the week to maximize the student’s acquisition of skills.

Course highlights included a mass casualty scenario with some outside help from the Clemson Leisure Skills Department providing the patients.  This exercise allowed the students to get a taste of what it might be like to provide emergency medical care for a larger number of folks in a chaotic environment.  The students were challenged to work as a team and make some very difficult treatment and evacuation decisions with the limited amount of resources available to them.

In addition to the mass casualty scenario the class was also asked to participate in a longer evening mock rescue that took place in the forest surrounding Clemson SC.  During this exercise the class got a real opportunity to experience what it would be like to provide medical care to a number of patients for an extended amount of time in a truly remote setting.

At the end of the week it was clear that a good time was had by all.  Congrats to the WFR grads from Clemson!

Scott & Deane

Congratulations to sixteen of the newest Wilderness First Responders from Collegedale, Tennessee!  Hosted by Southern Adventist University, students thrived in the early season heat and humidity of the eastern Appalachians.  Highlights of the course included a bear hang gone wrong, excellent patient care before a potential avalanche, and medical-legal scenario that kept the patients on their toes to wrap up the course!  Special thanks to sponsor Marty Miller for finding the most awesome volunteers for an ear-splitting mass casualty incident that gave all students an opportunity to interact with some "real" patients!  Southern Adventist University's Biology Trails for mountain biking and hiking provided an excellent backdrop for scenarios.  If you haven't ridden them yet, get over there and check them out!

Now, let's go help some people!

Eric Wakild

In celebration of the American Canoe Association's National Safe Boating Week, Landmark Learning keeps it ridiculous but safe in the office to celebrate National Safe Boating Week.

For more information on how you can celebrate -- and learn more about safe boating -- check out the ACA Water Blog at

Happy Wear Your Lifejacket to Work Day! #SafeBoatWeek

Read about how former Landmark student Stuart Cowles, the owner of the Climbmax Indoor Climbing Center, turned his passion for the outdoors into a business dream that just keeps growing. We are proud of you Stuart- way to make Asheville an even cooler place to visit. Check out "Climbing Comes To Asheville's River Arts District", published in The Citizen-Times here.


Imagine dangling hundreds of feet up the side of a red sandstone cliff. You're low on food and water and only a sling around a horn in the rock might stop you from a nasty fall. Out of gear and at the final lengths of the rope, the last option is to end the pitch and belay your partner up. Now push all of these non-emergencies to the back of your mind because, as he's climbing, your partner tears a tendon in his knee that takes a chunk of his femur with it.

Believe me when I say that that example is way too specific to be improvised. My vagabond lifestyle lends itself to absurd emergencies that would make great chapters in any outdoor guide: how to treat your own hypothermia because you went paddling alone, how to properly throw up underwater while SCUBA diving, how to differentiate between someone's offer of a ride or a ride when hitchhiking. 

I pursued Landmark Learning's WEMT-Basic course to help manage situations like these. The practical skills like splinting broken bones, responding to problems with the right pharmaceuticals and regulating oxygen flow built an immense foundation. 

But I don't work on an ambulance; I don't carry oxygen tanks into the wild. What did I have to gain from this? That's where the other strength of Landmark's fantastic instructors comes in: they teach you how to think. Though I easily can and will pursue work in EMS in the future, the most applicable lessons I learned from my WEMT taught me how to keep calm, keep organized and keep an eye on the future.

Back to the sandstone cliffs: my friend's screams of pain started fogging my mind. I wanted to act now, right now. This was a real emergency after all. But no, that's wrong. I couldn't act immediately because Deane and Padj at Landmark taught me that would only make the problem worse. I needed information, time to efficiently process my options and, most importantly, I needed to be the one to deploy the calm bomb in this wild situation.

Landmark has excellent facilities, a qualified staff and the kind of family atmosphere that you'd expect from a group of people so attuned to the outdoors. And when I eventually seek out some stability and decide to get a job, I know my instructors will have my back in lending a helping hand. 

I take stickers on my climbing helmet very seriously. It's a mark of how deeply the WEMT course affected my life and how proud I am of my education that, among stickers of Nevada and Beyoncé, the Landmark Learning sticker takes center stage right above my forehead.            


Shahmeer Azmat

ACA SWR Instructor Trainer, Justin Padgett swam, paddled and and waded multiple sections of the Tuckaseigee River in western NC this last week.  We had multiple water levels and working on our SWR skills at over seven different river sites.  We had light hearted, yet demanding days as we came together on technique and teaching skills.  Pleased at the outcome of this course to release four new ACA SWR instructors into the pool to educate the river people of the Southeast.  Thanks for all your hard work guys!