Dan Wall '19 in a leg splint.

More than 30 Hamilton Outing Club leaders spent last weekend developing the skills to manage backcountry medical emergencies during a Wilderness First Aid (WFA) course taught by instructors from Stonehearth Open Learning Opportunities.

Students were taught the techniques to assess and treat a broad variety of injuries, illnesses, and accidents through a mixture of classroom teaching and hands-on scenarios. Topics ranged from sprains and fractures to bites and stings or medical emergencies such as strokes and heart attacks.

WFA is one part of a two-weekend long training program run by the Outing Club to prepare students to lead overnight backpacking trips. Around half of the participants in WFA had already taken part in a full weekend of instruction on everything from safe camping skills to group management while the other half will complete that training in November.

For Chris Hart ’19, WFA amplified the training he had already received. “We did a bunch of mock injury situations that tremendously built my confidence. It was a great weekend that provided me with the information I needed to be comfortable taking a group out into the backcountry,” Hart recalled.

Sarah Jillings, assistant director of Outdoor Leadership, concurred, noting that WFA doesn’t simply teach skills “but also raises awareness of what can go wrong in terms of backcountry incidents and injuries and how to best avoid both through good decision making and other preventive steps.”

With a sizeable group of new HOC leaders having just finished training and more joining their ranks in the coming weeks, the future is sure to hold many exciting new adventures. Stay tuned to hear about leader training and more trips as autumn turns to winter and the snow begins to fall.


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