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SWU offering Wilderness First Responder course in May

04.24.14 | Academics, Community

SWU offering Wilderness First Responder course in May

    Responding to an accident or other medical emergency at home or at work is a challenge, but few people are truly prepared to respond to emergencies in the backcountry.

    Southern Wesleyan University will offer a course that will better prepare those leading groups on a hike or other wilderness experiences to deal with broken bones, snakebites and other emergencies that could arise when beyond the reach of readily available medical help or a cell signal to call 911. The Wilderness First Responder course is being offered May 19-24.

    This is a 73-hour course that focuses on the principles of long-term care, improvised resources and varying environmental conditions as the framework for learning. The comprehensive course is taken over a six-day period. A typical day consists of a mixture of lecture and hands-on practical skill work. Upon completion of this course, the student will be better equipped to care for the individual who becomes ill or injured in a remote setting. In addition, the student will gain critical skills that will help in disaster situations in a place where resources are limited or extended patient care is necessary.

    Topics covered will include urban vs. wilderness, biological hazards, reducing dislocations, wilderness wound care, hypothermia and hyperthermia, patient assessment, altitude illness, evacuation and survival, medical problems in the wild, improvised splinting, wilderness wound care and helicopter operations.

    The lead instructor is Ernie Dewitt, lead instructor for Wilderness First Responder and Wilderness EMT programs. He is currently professor of outdoor leadership and wilderness medicine at Toccoa Falls College. Dewitt has been a paramedic for 28 years and teaches classes that include Basic Wilderness Care, Advanced Cardiac Life Support and Pediatric Advanced Life Support. Dewitt’s wilderness experience includes Arctic training as a paratrooper in the U.S. Army; private pilot in Anchorage, Alaska; trans-continental bicyclist; hiking, climbing and kayaking throughout the U.S. and Canada including trips to Denali, Yosemite, Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon. He holds a bachelor’s degree in education and a master’s degree in adventure education and experiential learning.

    The registration deadline is May 5. Space is limited, so register today by contacting Dr. Roger McKenzie at (864) 644-5227 or email