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WildernesStudent

WFA or basic first aid?

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So, I've been wantinng to take a first aid class for a while now but have successfully put it off successfully put it off. However, it has come to my attention that most summer camps require some sort of first aid knowledge and Ive even found some that pay based on how much first aid experience you have had. Now, at the camp I am working at this summer I dont need to know anything (even if I did know stuff I wouldnt be allowed to use it) but as I have the opportunity to take a course I was wondering which would be better. Wilderness first aid or regular first aid and CPR.

I noticed a lot of people on here were certified in some sort of first aid so what do you suggest?

 

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There was a recent discussion about WFA because BSA is requiring it for Philmont. The basics of first aid are always the same (clear the airway, stop the bleeding and treat for shock) but WFA covers how to deal with situations when you're miles from anywhere and you might have to improvise stuff. I don't believe that it covers stuff like what usually runs through you imagination when you hear about the course like "Emergency amputation after bear attack."

 

A week ago, I would have been astonished that you wouldn't have been allowed to use any first aid if the opportunity presented itself at camp. After all, if there is an injury, applying first aid while sending for help can save a life.

 

However, last week at my gym, for some reason a group of us were chatting about CPR and helping injured people. One member is a retired school bus driver who said that under stat law, he was not allowed to do ANYTHING. All he could do if a student was injured was move the other students to one end of the bus, call it in and watch the child bleed out.

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I believe that standard first aid/CPR are prerequisites for WFA. So start out taking a certified first aid course then if you think you might need or like to move up to WFA have at it. Who knows, you might then take Wilderness First Responder then Wilderness EMT then become a mountain guide or ski patrolman.

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If I'm not mistaken, you are a college student. I'd check with the college to see if it is offering any first aid courses. Some colleges offer the Standard First Aid/CPR course with the WFA certs at the same time - if that's available to you, then that's what I would do.

 

If not, you'll have to start with the Standard First Aid/CPR course first as its a prerequisite for Wilderness First Aid courses.

 

I'm always a little wary when I hear that it's "State Law" that requires people not do give any care. That seems to be pretty unlikely. What is more likely is that it is the policy of the bus company, or a school district, or an employer, hiding behind the phrase "state law". Most states, if not all of them, have pretty good laws protecting "good samaritans" so I seriously doubt that a state would have a law that says a bus driver couldn't perform first aid on an injured student while waiting for an ambulance to arrive - especially in rural areas where an ambulance may be 10 minutes or more from the scene of an accident, its doubtful a state would prefer that bus drivers stand by while an injured student "bleeds out". A lot of company's seem to make up a "state law" when it serves their purpose of scaring their employees into a specific action (or lack of action) when there are risk management (insurance/liability) issues at stake.

 

In the case of the camp, it probably has specific written protocols on how to handle injuries, and specific personnel to handle injuries. If help is minutes away (and in most camp situtations, it is (not all - but most), then its easier for the camp to say wait for a designated person to show up than to try to tell you how far you can treat. There is nothing harder to try to explain to an injured person why you're removing a splint or bandage that someone just put on - and an EMT/Paramedic arriving on scene is pretty much going to be required to remove said splint/bandage to do a proper assessment of injury. These kinds of policies in camps and schools exist for reasons like this.

 

Calico

 

Calico

 

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Funny I should see this thread, I just spent two evenings plus all day Saturday attending a 16 hour Red Cross Wilderness First Aid Course. The basic difference is in basic first aid professional help is 30 minutes or less away. Wilderness First Aid covers treatment of 30 minutes to days if necessary.

If you have not been to certified first aid training in a while I recommend doing this one.

 

To the Professional Scouter's, Camp Directors and Program directors lurking out there please give some serious thought to working with your units and local Red Cross to offer a WFA course at summer camp for leaders and older scouts sure you may "only" get 4-6 people sitting in per week but at successful completion is that many more trained people are out in the woods.

 

Be careful out there.

 

AK-Eagle

aka

Phillip Martin

Scoutmaster Troop 700

Juneau Alaska

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Most states have some sort of "good Samaritan" law which protects you from liability when you render first aid to the extent of your training. CPR pressure on a wound etc.. People who hold licenses as medical providers md's, rn's, lpn's, paramedics are different and can be held liable that's why they or their employer carry liability insurance. The bus driver was probably trained to follow the procedure given. I highly doubt any state has such a law on the books. I can almost hear the vicious ad campaign that would follow the next election cycle. It may have been the policy of his employer to let only the pro's handle a situation after all how far is a normal school bus off the beaten track a paramedic would normally be just a phone call away. Hopefully they issued him a cell phone to make that call or had a working radio.

Take the First aid and CPR/AED classes if you can find for free jump on it American Red Cross has classes at reasonable cost. University may charge you regular tuition rates for such classes so may not be a bargain. Most community colleges would offer as well.

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The only reason I am considering taking one of these classes now is because our school offers both. However, the WFA class is two weeks long (I believemaybe longer) and when you complete it you are Wilderness First Responder certified (you get a laminated card and everything!) as well as a CPR cardthere are no prerequisites so I wouldnt have to take the basic first aid class and I defiantly dont want to pay to take both (the WFA class costs $550 as well as the regular $500 dollar fee for the class).

 

I dont really know anything about the Good Samaritan law but I do know that at the camp I worked at even if you were a certified EMT you couldnt touch anyoneit didnt matter if they were choking right in front of youthe camp had its own medic and we werent supposed to give the campers anything so much as a band aid (we couldnt even give them first aid kits) It really bugged a lot of us counselors too (some even knew advanced first aid stuff) because with a camp of 500-800 kids and a staff of at least 30 people more then one person should be able to give medical attention. I do know that the reason we couldnt was because we were contract boundwhatever that means.

 

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If you have the chance to get Wilderness First Responder, I'd do it in a heart beat. If they don't have any prerequisites, I'd bet they cover everything in basic first aid and WFA. I think when I checked, BFA was 8 hours, WFA was an additional 16 hours and WFR was 80 hours. So a two week course of 8 hours a day might make sense.

Here's the NOLS reference

http://www.nols.edu/wmi/courses/

 

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WildernesStudent,

 

IMO, Based on your questions and stories about your adventures in Northern Georgia so far, and if cost weren't a major consideration, if I were you, I would opt for the Wilderness First Aid course. Just think, if you decided to join a BSA Venturing Crew and attend one of our high adventure bases, you would already have the WFA course requirement out of the way.

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"I'm always a little wary when I hear that it's "State Law" that requires people not do give any care."

 

You may be right but I'm not going to call the guy a liar and I'm not going to look into it. Many state laws make no sense. Many local laws make no sense. Heck, there are even federal laws that make no sense.

 

In my kids' school system, the schools have an exemption from the requirement to have fire extinguishers available. That's according to both my lawyer and the local fire chief. Only the janitor has access to them.(This message has been edited by Gold Winger)

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WildernesStudent,

 

I would recommend you take any of the wilderness first aid courses if you are planning on spending a lot of time in the backcountry. These courses are great primers and get you thinking about risk management, which will lead to better judgment and decision making out there. I took a Wilderness First Responder course a few years back through Wilderness Medical Associates. There were no prerequisites. Eventually, I had to re-certify through a Wilderness Advanced First Aid Course. I had a blast with both courses and would highly recommend them! I would recommend that anyone spending time in the outdoors take at least the basic Wilderness First Aid course. If you have the time and resources and plan on working in the industry, I would definitely go for the WFR. A lot of outdoor programs are making that a standard. I am glad to see that the BSA is moving in this direction and hope that more councils will look at providing training to adult leaders. Take care out there and safe travels!(This message has been edited by boone)

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Random question:

What is it that boy scouts learn, WFR or basic first aid...then again I suppose you wouldn't be teaching 12 year olds WFR would you...but then again would eagle scouts only have to know basic first aid? hmmm...

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In general, Scouts learn basic first aid. The biggest difference between first aid and wilderness first aid is the concept of "extended care." In addition to basic/advanced first aid, there are wilderness protocols. These protocols are standards that would be used in a "wilderness" context, meaning Advanced Life Support/EMS or a hospital are not readily available (one definition was an hour away from ALS/hospital). These protocols in the WFR course included reduction of joint dislocations, CPR cessation, wound management, spine clearance, and epi pen (anaphylaxis management) administration. Most WFR courses are for people 18 and older (unless parental consent is given). WFA and WAFA courses might be available to people 16 and older. Scouts are taught basic first aid skills in progression through ranks and merit badges. The WFR course built on the basics that I learned in Scouting. There are several good resources for wilderness first aid. GernBlasten mentioned the NOLS link to the Wilderness Medicine Institute. I took the course through Wilderness Medical Associates. Both are great organizations and there are others. One of the "textbooks" for my course was The Outward Bound Wilderness First-Aid Handbook. It's a great resource and a gives a good overall picture. As a side note another great resource in general for backcountry travel is Mountaineering: The Freedom of the Hills (this is one of my favorites). Great stuff! It will give you a good overview of wilderness travel. It also has a first aid section that briefly covers some potential first aid situations. Good luck in your travels!

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First, always try to get as much emergency training as possible. WFR training can help in many non-wilderness situations whereas basic first aid can leave you without some necessary skills.

 

Second, as to the comment about a lack of "Good Samaritan" coverage may about a recent case filled in California. I found the BSA inout on the case at www.BSALegal.org:

"Boy Scouts of America submitted a friend of the court brief to the California Supreme Court in a case about the interpretation of that states Good Samaritan statute. Van Horn v. Watson, No. S152360. The Good Samaritan statute, Cal. Health & Safety Code 1799.102, protects from liability those who provide emergency care in good faith at the scene of an emergency. An intermediate appellate court interpreted the statute as applying only to medical care in a medical emergency and concluded that the statute did not protect a rescuer who pulled someone from a car after a collision because she feared the car would catch fire or blow up."

You may search further if so inclined.

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