June 2, 2015
The first week as Wilderness Ranger Interns was gory, stressful, and hugely educational. I wrapped moist gauze about the avulsed eye of a grizzly-mauled man, at once knowing that his chest trauma, a flail chest, two or more ribs broken in two or more places, was the more life threatening of his worries. Thankfully, after all the appropriate dressings were applied and trauma treated, Jeff stood up, ripped the rubbery dangling eyeball off, rubbed out the fake blood from the grizzly claws, and waited by the fire pit as we finished the scenario to critique our patient care. This training has never been tested in the 8 years of the SBFC, but nevertheless, prepared we are.
For eight days we were Wilderness First Responders in training. No matter how proudly and symmetrically constructed our three-sided occlusive dressings, nor how comfortable our improvised litters, nor even how swiftly and sturdily we immobilize a patient’s head and prevent the cervical spine from further injury, it was all a simulation, all practice and preparation. Many thanks to our Aerie Backcountry Medicine instructors, now we know how to prevent backcountry medical emergencies as well as how to best take care of our fellow interns, our volunteers, and ourselves.
During our “off hours” we trained in ultimate Frisbee and horseshoes, shared of ourselves over campfires, and hit the town in Potomac, Montana, twice overwhelming Cully’s, a burger place attached to the town’s gas station. This Tuesday, June 2, we head off to Lochsa Historical Ranger Station for SBFC training, soundly primed for medical emergencies and to enjoy one another’s company.
Monte Cole-Washington University in St. Louis