Thanks to the RVU Wilderness Medicine Student Interest Group (WMSIG), students had an opportunity to take an Advanced Wilderness Life Support (AWLS) course in mid-December. The objective of the course was to enable medical professionals to prevent and effectively manage emergency medical situations outside of traditional medical facilities. The course format included lectures, followed by hands-on teaching and mock victim scenarios. Topics covered in the course focused on typical scenarios of wilderness emergencies including animal, insect, arthropod, marine bites and stings, avalanches, hypothermia, frostbite, lighting, high-altitude-related problems, and infectious diseases—to name a few. “The most valuable aspect of the course,” said Danika Evans, OMS-II, Vice President of the WMSIG, “was the opportunity to start learning how to make medical decisions in an environment that requires creativity, improvisation, and on-your-feet thinking. Wilderness medicine requires consideration of scene safety and weather. [This] often requires the triage of multiple victims, and requires the caregiver to step outside of the comfort of four walls of a hospital or clinic and use whatever resources they have on their person, their back, or in the surrounding environment.”
In addition, the course was planned on a weekend that happened to be cold and snowy—perfect for a course focusing on performing in adverse conditions. At the completion of the course, all 35 first- and second-year medical students became certified AWLS responders. A special thank-you to the instructor and founder of the course, Dr. Richard Ingebretsen, who traveled to Colorado to instruct the course!