This is the second year we have hosted a Wilderness Advanced Life Support (WALS) certification course on Hurricane. We were joined by a talented group of participants with backgrounds ranging from emergency nurses to an anesthesiologist. One of the most challenging aspects of this course for participants is that they are no longer in a familiar resource-and-expertise-rich hospital environment, and have to improvise with the medical bag they brought to the scene, trying to stabilize a situation without much outside support and working with a real time delay until they can evacuate their patient to definitive medical care.
One of my favorite parts of this course is that Hurricane staff get to help out and act as patients during full-group scenarios. During the final evening scenario we got moulage to simulate our bruising and open wounds, and we were also given a laundry list of symptoms and afflictions ranging from a dislocated patella to a traumatic brain injury (TBI) to an amputated hand. Covered in fake blood and strewn across the field, we waited to be approached by the response team. You can learn a lot about emergency situations by participating in a scenario-- it was incredible to hear how the team communicated information about their patients, worked out an evacuation plan, and triaged the situation. They worked calmly and efficiently, and recognized each others expertise in certain areas, passing stabilized patients off to one another in order to fully attend to the more extreme injuries.
Everyone on the course was up to the challenge and got out of their comfort zone to learn a new set of skills and apply their medical knowledge to dealing with emergencies in a wilderness setting. We are looking forward to more WALs programs, and hope to see everyone who participated back out on Hurricane Island in the future!