WFA, WFR, WEMT certs

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WFA, WFR, WEMT certs

by jrbouldin » Mon Jun 11, 2007 4:34 pm

I'd be interested to know how many people have active WFA, WFR or WEMT certs, who are not working as guides but obtained them just to be more able to handle potential incidents involving their climbing partners or themeselves.

Of those that have them, have you ever had to put into practice, on the mountain, the skills you learned. Of those that don't, were you ever in a situation where you lacked the training or skills needed to deal with an incdident effectively?

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by DBaker » Mon Jun 11, 2007 8:20 pm

I have a WFR certification. The closest I ever got to using it was when I cut my hand open on some obsidian and started bleeding profusely. Admittedly I simply slapped some duct tape and a (clean) sock on it, I think I could have figured that out without the training...

I'm not really sure why I wanted the cert. When I was younger I was in the CAP, and had all sorts of first aid / search and rescue certifications, I guess it just seemed like a natural step. I'm a member of The Mountaineers, and when they offered the course (and my mother offered to pay the fee) I went for it. I find that my partners like the idea of at least one of us being trained to, as they say "Duct tape my shattered skull together".

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Layne Bracy

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by Layne Bracy » Mon Jun 11, 2007 8:50 pm

I just got my WALS certification last month. A couple years ago, I ran across a guy with a dislocated shoulder and felt bad because I couldn't recall the exact procedure to relocate it. Hopefully now I could help - at least for the next few weeks anyway! :)

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by rhyang » Mon Jun 11, 2007 9:38 pm

I have a WFA card (16 hours), and have gotten it renewed a couple of times (valid for 3 years). If I had the time I would go for a WFR though.

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I took WFA in February

by tarol » Mon Jun 11, 2007 10:58 pm

I am an interpretive naturalist and lead guided hikes so it is a useful thing to know in my job... and on my off time when I go exploring on my own.

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by b_betts » Tue Jun 12, 2007 2:12 am

I used to have my WFA when I was a canoe guide...

More recently I got WFR, then finally EMT (no WEMT unfortunately) just for personal knowledge.

Luckily no real use for anything aside from minor cuts, hoping to keep it that way! But it's good to know what to do in case this really go south...

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by e-doc » Tue Jun 12, 2007 2:46 am

Am a FP by training but spent some time in rural south doing various things. Never had any WFA type training in residency besides multi-system trauma. Learned alot on job and from all my hiking and such. Took WFA in March, had more experience than everybody in group combined; staff and students. Member of WMS, taken some courses in same

In all my hikes I've had some lacs and sprains, hypothermia, heat exhaustion, dehydration, hypothermia, AMS, HACE. Never a broke bone or worse in the woods. In work I've had severe hypothermia, AMS in elderly at 6 k, brown recluse bites, black widow, Rattlesnake (to face), copperheads, fractures and dislocations, lacs, and multi system trauma from falls etc.

I think WFA is a good start but without the practical experience its hard to translate to real world. Hope there are teaching scenarios with course. The key is to keep a level head and work the problem out. Be able to triage multi-victims; who's going to live and who ain't. Keep someone alive until transport to definitive care. Be able to explain mechanism and AMPLE: Allergies, Medications, Past medical history, Last meal, and Environment. And don't call medical helicopter evac to transfer someone dead or almost dead (helicopters crash) Stay calm and focused!
Last edited by e-doc on Tue Jan 20, 2009 8:44 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Steve Larson

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by Steve Larson » Tue Jun 12, 2007 6:16 am

I got my WAFA about a year ago. Not surprisingly, what e-doc has to say just about covers it all. We did a lot of scenario work in my course, and what I really got out of it was the fact that there isn't much you can do in the field for serious injury. I think it mostly gives me some psychological confidence that I'll at least recognize dire situations vs. everything else, and be comfortable with what happens (to the extent that's possible).

For example, a few years back my partner and I had just returned from a climb on Mt. Sill, when a guy comes running into our camp in a panic. His partner had rapped off the end of the rope up on Thunderbolt. Miraculously, the guy was still alive. We had no idea what to do, and were pretty tired. I ran over to a guided party we had met on route and explained the situation.

The guide had an assistant with him who had stayed in camp all day. The well-rested guy carried a sleeping bag up to the victim, and then walked out to notify SAR. The guide would not consider even attempting to bring the victim down from where he was because he said it would take at least six people to do it. I thought that was a little callous, but my partner and I weren't in a position to do anything on our own. So we spent the night wondering what was going on, and very glad it wasn't us waiting for help.

At daybreak a helicopter came up the valley. After some reconnaissance they eventually landed a team on the glacier and began making their way to the victim. We headed down. Just as we were about at the car the chopper came back down the canyon with a litter dangling and spinning from a line. It didn't look good. Our fears were confirmed when we reached the trailhead, where SAR had set up.

They told us the guy had hung on all night and was even conscious when they first reached him. He gave up the ghost just as they were about to haul him off the mountain. Talk about tough breaks.

I've often thought about what I would have liked to have done different if that situation ever arose again. What I've concluded is that I want my partners to know something about self-rescue. I think that would have made more of a difference than anything else. If his partner had known how to rap with an injured partner, he might have been able to get him down to the glacier that afternoon. That would have avoided the 3-4 hours it took SAR to find them and then get to them. If they had taken the guy away at 7:00 am instead of 10:00 or 11:00 he might have had a fighting chance.

Knowing what I know now, I know that the guide did all he could. Given the mechanism of injury, it seems likely the guy died of shock or brain injury, neither of which is really treatable in the field. Keep they guy as warm and comfortable as you can, while doing everything you can to get him to definitive care ASAP. You can do some BLS, but it won't save someone with those kinds of injuries. After that, I'd be at peace that I had done what I could.

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by mtngeek » Tue Jun 12, 2007 7:41 am

Urban FR and WFR, luckily never had to use them so far.

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by e-doc » Tue Jun 12, 2007 12:31 pm

mtngeek wrote:Urban FR and WFR, luckily never had to use them so far.

Urban FR. I bet those are some interesting scenarios, what caliber and where did bullet go.

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by radson » Wed Jun 13, 2007 5:21 am

I did my WFR in Australia and am not a guide. As e-doc states, to be good, one need a lot of practice but I am still very glad I did it and plan to keep it updated as required.

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by Alpinist » Fri Jun 15, 2007 1:55 pm

I received a WFA last year. The class was taught by the Red Cross and coordinated by the local climbing club.

I've never been involved in a serious accident in the wilderness. I took the class "just in case".
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by Moni » Fri Jun 15, 2007 3:12 pm

What about OEC (Outdoor Emergency Care) taught by the National Ski Patrol? AMA recognized, 84 minimum hour class. Very thorough and has a back country component, since we have back country patrols. Have used it both in and outside of ski areas. Luckily nothing from the result of a bad climbing accident.

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by ibndalight » Sat Jun 16, 2007 8:45 pm

I got my WFA last year and it helped me think though possible situations that could happen to you or people around you and how you'd respond to them in the backcountry

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by Scott Dusek » Sat Jun 16, 2007 9:07 pm




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