Sunday, June 22, 2008

Wilderness EMT

This last week was quite the week. I drove out to Sylva, NC to take a Wilderness EMT class--also known as the Wilderness Upgrade for Medical Professionals (WUMP)--at Landmark Learning. On the way I had to make a two hour diversion due to a serious wreck on I-40 at exit 355 which knocked off a piece of the overpass, backing up traffic for almost 10 miles! However, this did afford me the opportunity to take my new car through the mud to make a U-turn on the highway.

Anyways, the Wilderness EMT certification is administered through the Wilderness Medicine Institute of the National Outdoor Leadership School (WMI of NOLS). Landmark Learning is one of the partners of WMI that teaches the course. It was 6 days long, including two night classes. We covered every topic you would cover in your urban EMT-B class, just assuming you were out in the back country.

Without a doubt, the Wilderness EMT course was one of the most fun classes I have ever taken. Furthermore, I learned more in the last week than I ever did in 5 months of EMT school and my (now) 6 months of experience. Our two teachers, Justin and Jon, were perfect foils for one another. They were knowledgeable, hilarious, serious, and extremely competent teachers all at the same time. They taught the course as much outside and hands-on as we sat inside listening to lecture. The lecture was so interactive, nobody sat pounding nails or twiddling their thumbs. Justin and Jon fully expected that everybody in the room would participate, as we were all at least EMT-B's (and a PA) and should know the majority of the information. They just took what we knew and molded it into a back country way of thinking. This dynamic style of learning made for a truely amazing week and has made me a better (urban) EMT!

While Justin and Jon were the stars of the show there at Landmark Learning, enough can't be said for the interesting cast of people making up the student body. We had ex-special forces, current military, paramedics, a PA, fire fighters, current EMT's, and brand spankin' new EMT's. The brand spankin' new EMT's were fresh out of Landmark Learning's EMT Intensive program, where they spent 19 days at the campus getting fashioned into National Registry EMT-Basics. It is a testament to the amazing educational experience at Landmark to see a large number of them stay through the WEMT program and hold their own with more experienced medical professionals! Thanks also go to the other students for making six solid days of learning seem like the blink of an eye.

I feel well prepared for my drive to and from Alaska. I have a new car that will go the distance. My brother has his Wilderness First Aid certification (taught by J-Lo of Landmark), and I'm now a WEMT. I think all I need at this point is some experience hiking and camping...crap.