Saturday, October 13, 2018


Last week I had the opportunity to attend the A.W.L.S. class put on by Backcountry Medical Guides at Lake Tahoe. Today I want to put up a review. For those who aren't familiar with me, Hi! My name is Eric. I'm an emergency room nurse and have been for the past ten years. I've done lots of these medical classes from ACLS and PALS to TNCC and so on. I even taught PALS for about a year. I also got my EMT-basic right before nursing school.

My hospital provides nurses with a stipend every year which can be used for a relevant class. I was able to convince them that this class was relevant and I'm glad I did.

I was initially going to go to a version of this class at Mt. Hood, but I didn't get enrolled in time. These things fill up so register early if you can. Instead, a co-worker and I went to the Lake Tahoe class. It's hard to argue with Lake Tahoe as a setting and the weather was pretty perfect.

Our class went Friday through Sunday. For those of you who are going to have to justify the class expense to some corporate entity, much of the curriculum was about sharpening your patient assessment skills. Who couldn't use better patient assessment skills, AMIRIGHT?

Sorry for shouting, I get excited.

Much of the information I got out of this class is stuff I have encountered elsewhere previously. What is invaluable is putting it in proper context.  Since I became an ER nurse, I have come across accidents in the field, had neighbors and family members come to me with reports of traumatic injuries and all sorts of other things of that nature. I always get off to a slow start. I struggle because I don't have my monitors and my co-workers and all the endless supplies that I need. This class tackles those injuries and incidents with nothing more than you might have in a backpacking first-aid kit.

Oh yeah, and it goes over what is good for first-aid kits in different scenarios. That alone is worth the price of the course damn near. How many times have you packed for something and tried to figure out what would be a good kit without packing bags of NS and two cubic feet of kerlix?

The information in the course is fantastic and is delivered, in this case anyway, by people that really know what they are talking about. John, the lead instructor in this case, was EMS in Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons as well as a flight medic. The other two instructors were equally as experienced and proficient.

So, if getting better and more confident at patient assessment and treatment of patients in an out-of-hospital setting, specifically the waaaayyyyy out of hospital setting of three days out into the wilderness, sounds good to you, sign up now. Classes fill up fast.

I would give the class an A+.

Enjoy some pictures.

Improvised litters with a sleeping mat and climbing rope

Hard to concentrate with the beach outside

Warming a trauma patient in the field

Improvised c-collar with a SAM splint

Just another mass casualty

Improvised splints

Scenarios in the woods

Zoom in, five scenario groups

Poor John, we "fixed" him

As an aside, we were at a small conference center with room for another conference. The other group was a group of clairvoyants. Seemed really ironic to me that one room was filled with people who thought they could see the future and one was filled with people preparing because they knew they couldn't predict the future.

Also, why hold a raffle with people who can see into the future?