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WFAM’18- Experience

At the end of December, everything slows down and the world kind of comes to a halt. It’s a good moment not to relax, but to deal with all matters that really need to be done. Like required additional training in first aid for extending the NKBV-license and for expanding the knowledge in this field.

So, at the end of November, I registered for the WFAM (Wilderness First Aid Mountain) organized by Outdoor Medicine, on the 16th of December in a Stayokay hostel in Soest. When the wet snow fell down, together with a small group of people we studied AMS, HAPE, HACE, frostbite, and hypothermia; medical conditions you could have to deal with at an altitude of 3000 m and higher.

Why didn’t I know about Outdoor Medicine before? The fact is that this compact training, organized by this organization, was really good. The trainers were medical specialists who, from their areas of specialization, had an affinity with work at high altitude and far away in the wilderness. It was this combination of actual scientific insights and insights from clinical experience that led to an actual step-by-step plan for making a diagnosis and starting the right therapy in ‘the field’.

This course is in continuation of the WFA (Wilderness First Aid) course; the fundamental two-days training for people who work as travel guides in remote areas where help is not directly available. And we surely deepened our knowledge. We were asked to complete an e-learning module in advance, which was, with its small tests, visualizations, and cases from the field, already really helpful in learning more about altitude sickness and the pathophysiologic processes behind. 

When in Soest, two enthusiastic medical doctors provided the plenary training: the morning consisted of theory lectures in which we repeated and expanded on our knowledge from the e-learning module, and in the afternoon we trained our practical skills in clinical scenarios. We ended the day with a difficult knowledge test; the trainers clearly had strong ambitions to equip the participants with high-value knowledge and practical skills.

All participants had practical experience and belonged to different (mountaineering) organizations, which provided a dynamic, interactive training environment. We were all really eager to learn and I think this is partly because of the fact that specific first aid courses like this one, are rare in the Netherlands.

In the meantime, the snow had melted. After a short debriefing and farewell drink, shaking hands and sharing contact information, this training came to an end. It definitely enriched our knowledge and network!

© Christophe L. in