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Wilderness First Responder Certification Course to be held at Ozarks

January 11, 2012
By cnp
Posted in Community Events

Clarksville, Ark. --- The Ozarks Outdoors program at University of the Ozarks will host a nationally recognized Wilderness First Responder course presented by the Wilderness Medicine Institute (WMI) of the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) from March 17-25 on the Clarksville campus.

The certification course is designed to provide people with the tools to make critical medical and evacuation decisions in remote locations. Half of the time will be spent completing practical skills, case studies and scenarios designed to challenge decision-making abilities. Special topics include: wound management and infection, realigning fractures and dislocations, improvised splinting techniques, patient monitoring and long term management problems, up-to-date information on all environmental emergencies, plus advice on drug therapies. Emphasis is placed on prevention and decision-making, not the memorization of lists.

The nine-day, 80-hour Wilderness First Responder curriculum also includes standards for urban and extended care situations. The WMI Adult & Child CPR is included in this course. The Wilderness First Responder course is pre-approved for 70 hours of EMT Continuing Education Hours (CEH) by the Continuing Education Coordinating Board for Emergency Medical Services (CECBEMS).

According to Jamie Lewis Hedges, director of outdoor and environmental experiences at Ozarks, the Wilderness First Responder training can make a critical difference when other medical response is more than an hour away. "If you hike, camp, backpack, canoe or kayak anywhere in northwest Arkansas, you are likely to be over an hour away from help," he said. "This course can give you confidence in the backcountry that you are equipped for the risk."

The March offering of the Wilderness First Response Certification course will mark the second time Ozarks Outdoors has hosted NOLS/WMI on the Ozarks campus. Larry Isch, Ozarks director of public relations, enrolled in the course when it was first offered, and found that it was a good balance of hands-on exercises, real-world scenarios, lectures, and book material. "This was one of the best investments I’ve ever made in furthering my outdoor skills and knowledge," he said. "The course was incredibly informative and enjoyable and the nine days flew by." Isch emphasized that for him, one of the major benefits of the class was that it taught him how to think and respond to numerous emergency situations in a backcountry environment. "It gave me the foundation to deal with medical issues that I might come across in my outdoor endeavors, and the situational learning scenarios were especially helpful in making me feel more competent and prepared for medical emergencies, not only in wilderness settings, but in everyday life. For those of us who like to play outside, this course is a must," he added.

Participants must be 16 years of age or older in order to take this course. The cost to register is $595. Ozarks students, faculty, and staff may register for the discounted rate of $550. The registration fee does not cover lodging or food. A limited number of hostel bunks are available at the Ozarks Outdoors BaseCamp, along with a limited number of primitive campsites at the Ozarks Outdoors DemoCamps on campus. These lodging options are available to course participants for an additional fee. Because of limited space, registration by March 1 is recommended.

For more information on the course, see the course description on the WMI website, or contact Hedges by email at or by calling 479-979-1FUN.

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Students in the NOLS/WMI Wilderness First Responder certification course conduct a field exercise where the simulated injuries represent the type that could be inflicted by a falling tree.