October 2014

I was pleased to represent the NOLS Wilderness Medicine Institute this last weekend at the AEE International conference.  I shared wilderness medicine case studies with a large group of attendees.  A reality check rang out through the room as we looked at difficult medical and evacuation decisions our students make in remote places. Good to see lots of familiar as well as plenty of new faces in the crowd.  And I must say, I like Chattanooga, TN, in the Fall.  

It was great to attend and present at the 2014 Vermont EMS conference up in Killington, Vermont October 17-19.   Seth Hawkins, MD and I both provided two different presentations to include, Community Relief Medic Designs for EMS First Responders, Cross Pollination of Recreationalists and Rescue Services for Increased Rescue Capabilities, Epinephrine Update, and Bringing EMS into the Backcountry.  We enjoyed the opportunity to mix and mingle with some of Vermont’s finest EMS providers as well as connecting with many of our Northeastern friends and associates.  It even snowed a little on the last day, revealing a frosty ridge about the ski resort.  Cheers to the State of Vermont, one of the most rural and backcountry states on the east coast! 


Week two of the EMT Intensive came to a close yesterday ending the week with scenarios.  These were not predictable straight-forward scenarios, but instead mixtures of medical problems hidden by a distracting injury, and patients less than appreciative to have your probing questions and assessments.  As challenging as it was to critically think through the maze of uncertainty, students felt the ownership of their patient assessments guiding their direction to stabilize, package and ultimately transport or transfer of care by giving appropriate, accurate and succinct patient care reports.  Week two, though the most intensive in terms of didactic material and clinical experiences, serves to bring the parts into focus, and for many the opportunity to see the bigger picture of EMS and it's service to community.  

I just got back from teaching three Swiftwater Rescue courses Landmark Learning's partner in Ecuador, Mingai.  Many thanks to Mingai director Felipe Jacome for putting these courses together and to instructor Alex Dent for helping me teach!

The courses were conducted in Spanish near the towns of Banos and Tena. The first Level 4 course in Banos was held on the Rio Zunag in the community of Rio Negro.  We appreciate local kayaker "Lucho" - his mother let us use her open air restaurant as a classroom space.  Awesome lunches, too!

We had 12 students who braved the cold waters of the Andes.  Most were local raft guides on the Rio Pastaza. The second Level 4 course was held in Tena where we enjoyed MUCH warmer water.  We used the Rio Tena as well as the Upper Mishaulli, a classic Class III-IV kayak run.  Tena considerably lower than Banos with much more of a jungle-like climate.  The Tena course had a combination of raft guides as well as "bomberos" or fire-fighthers.  We taught the course at the popular island park where we were accompanied by squirrel monkeys (don't drop any food!).  

The last course was a one-day Level 5 Advanced course open to students who had already taken a Level 4 course.  We had a good mix of students who took their Level 4s this year as well as some returning students from 2 and 4 years ago.  It was great to see some old and familiar faces!  The Level 5 took place entirely on the Upper Mishualli near Archidona.  We took 2 rafts and 4 kayaks down a short section of the river and worked on application and integration of skills in addition to learning some more advanced techniques.  I was really happy to be back in a kayak after 4 days of swimming!

I had an awesome time and was excited to have the opportunity to teach in Spanish again.  I really appreciate my students not making TOO much fun of my accent!  Thanks again everybody for a great trip.  I was glad to make some new friends and to get the opportunity to return to Ecuador.

-Rob Barham

Well, the first week of the October EMT is in full swing and the fall leaves a day or two at their peak colors in these beautiful mountains of Western NC.  Students have spent their week in and out of the classroom working on new information and putting what they have learned into team action in trauma emergency situations and scenarios. It has been a busy but productive first 6 days of the course and next week is full-on again as we get into medical emergencies.  




It was great to have the prestigious Wilderness Risk Managers Conference in the Southeast this Fall.  On October 1-3, 2014, the WRMC was held at the beautiful green Atlanta green space - Stone Mountain, Georgia.  Attendance appeared pretty strong as core workshops and new emerging topics were presented by risk management experts from around the country.  It was a good time for learning, connecting and enjoying the amenities at the Evergreen resort. 

To checkout the conference online or watch the video, "Valuing Wilderness Risk Management: The WRMC", click here.