I was invited as an out of state guest to attend a Wilderness First Responders class in Ketchum Idaho last winter. The 10 day commitment had a brutal schedule and initially stoke was hard to come by. With the last minute addition of a local Salt Lake crew spirits began to rise. The group consisted of friends Carlo Travarelli, Ben Wheeler and Brant Moles. Together the four of use hit the road for Idaho eager to hone our backcountry skills.
We were an attentive group, the classroom setting was less than familiar but it wasn’t long before the note taking skills were at full strength.
We had two instructors Melissa Arnot and Thaddeus Josephson. It was amazing how much knowledge these two had. Questions were flying in the classroom as real world scenarios were played out over and over.
Brothers Zach and Reggie Crist were part of the course along with Tom Wayes and Eric Leidecker among others. With the class consisting of nearly all career skiers it was interesting to hear everyones medical history. In the end consensus was clear, Tom Wayes and Brant Moles were easily the most experienced when it came to injuries in the backcountry.
We were a lively bunch and the needle practice became a class favorite
It wasn’t all classroom work, fortunately we spent a good deal of time outside working on real world scenarios.
The triage scenes were the most exciting. In this set up im suffering from a fractured skull and broken leg, Im laid out unconscious next to my Kayak along the banks of the make believe waterfall. I wasn’t aware that the WFR curriculum included a crash course in acting.
By day 9 the once attentive group was starting to slip a little. The reality of our 200 question test was starting to loom, we were going to have to power through these last couple days.
The written test was a beast taking nearly 4 hours to complete. Then came the practical, assessing an injured patient. I was teamed up with Carlo for this final test and together we scored a perfect 31 out of 31, nice work Carlo.
In the end it was a life altering experience. I learned an amazing amount over that 10 days and was stoked to have made the commitment. Spending the amount of time I do in the backcountry its nice to be armed with a little more knowledge.