The Transylvania Times -

Course Teaches How To Respond To Wilderness Emergencies


This Saturday, Brevard College’s twice annual Wilderness First Responder course gets underway.

The nine-day course is open to college students and the public, training participants to respond to emergencies in remote settings.

The program includes learning practical skills, such as working in teams and making improvised splints, knowing how to realign fractures, dislocations, and how to deal with wounds and infections.

Jennifer Kafsky, a Brevard College associate professor and coordinator of wilderness leadership and experiential education, first took the course in 1997 and has been recertified every three years since.

“I have used the techniques in a real situation,” she said. “Much of what I learned and applied was in the realm of preventing injuries, and the strategies I learned to employ worked, so I fortunately haven’t had many serious incidents to manage.”

The course is also recommended for backcountry guides, canoe trip leaders, private expedition groups, college/university outdoor education programs, Hiking club trip leaders, wilderness therapeutic programs, EMTs and adventure race safety personnel.

Grant Bullard, with Gwynn Valley Camp, has taken the course in the past and noted a need to retake it, because the curriculum changes through the years and its helpful to learn what’s current.

The course is a program of the Wilderness Medicine Institute (WMI) of the National Outdoor Leadership School. WMI was founded in 1990 and is one of the top programs in the country offering such courses, according to Kafsky.

The Brevard College course will be taught by two instructors from Landmark Learning, the nation’s leading multi-certification training center for outdoor educators.

The college has been offering the courses – one at the end of August and one in January – since 1996. This course or a wilderness first aid course are considered to be a standard certification for qualified outdoor leaders.

“Brevard College students who have taken the course consider it to be essential professional training and both valuable as growing professionals, as well as outdoor adventurers in their personal life,” Kafsky said.

Kafsky said students have benefited in other ways from the course, including receiving summer positions, internships, full-time jobs and mentoring.

One of the best parts of the course, Kafsky said, are the rescue simulations.

“(Those in the course) get the opportunity to survey a scene and manage rescue incidents, assess the condition of patients, make complex decisions and build a plan for patient treatment in a remote environment,” she said.

A rescue simulation is planned during the evening of Sept. 2 in Pisgah National Forest. The rescue scenario is supervised by the course instructors.

Signs will be posted at the trailheads to inform the public that the rescue simulation is taking place.

The course registration is open through the end of the day on Friday. The course begins at 8 a.m. on Saturday and runs through Sept. 5. The course cost is $600 and includes instructional materials. College credit is available for an additional fee.

To register, contact Landmark Learning at or call the college at 862-8034.


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