Swine Flu

It is almost a given that anyone who comments on medical issues should be saying something about swine flu and its implications. What more can we say? The stats and real (and imagined) seriousness and pervasiveness change daily. In the end this is still influenza, a potentially lethal respiratory virus that most people survive. It is spread person-to-person by water droplets produced from coughing and sneezing. It is relatively easy to avoid contact by staying home from work but not so easy to isolate oneself on board a small boat or in a tent when pinned down by a raging storm. Wash your hands and be courteous by coughing and sneezing into the crook of you elbow. When water is not readily available and you have the room, alcohol handwash solution is not a bad idea. As it turns out these are good ideas under any circumstances. Oseltamivir (e.g.,Tameflu – an antiviral) may be beneficial, especially if you are planning to head to Mexico or maybe CA or TX (and now even more places) but at $90+ US for ten 75mg tablets (www.drugstore.com) should this be a high priority; how much would you carry? Over-the-counter medications are of little to no use for treatment or prevention.

If you are worried, go to a reliable source, e.g., www.cdc.gov and not the nightly news cast. Remember, this is a quickly moving medical story. The people who know the most and are honest are likely to give fewer definitive, unequivocal answers than those who are removed from the center but seem to know it all.

Dr. David Johnson
President and Medical Director
Wilderness Medical Associates
Wilderness Medical Associates, Canada

The Very Next Day After a WAFA Course…

A student shares an experience that occured the day after they attended one of WMA’s Wilderness Advanced First Aid courses.

At work for a half hour. Monday morning. Phone rings, client with severe drug addictions and Borderline Personality Disorder calls. She wants to talk about not taking methadone in four days. She is speaking softly. She regularly comes on and off opiates, and while the detox is always serious, I now knew to focus on the PAS to determine what was actually life-threatening. I began asking her about her breathing which was fine, and there were no other issues for immediate death, but I did go to ins and outs, which I may not have done before the WAFA training. She reported that she hadn’t eaten since last Tuesday and vomited when she did, didn’t know when her last bowel was, hadn’t peed in at least 24 hours and didn’t remember drinking anything since some juice last night. (I later learned she was drinking alcohol up until Sunday). The flags went up for where the real problems were and I instructed her to get to the ER. She was treated for severe dehydration and electrolyte imbalance. Aside from being helpful, what I was struck by was my immediate confidence in how to handle and assess the situation. While not the most dramatic first aid story, this client can be extremely difficult to know what to do with and at least in this case I knew.

Have you had to use your skills since your course?

Lightning Strikes: Myths and Facts

Ben Usatch, MD, FAAEM, NREMT-P recently wrote this article for JEMS.com. Check this out to learn more about lightning strikes.

Does lightning really never strike twice in the same spot? Is it safe to touch the victim of a lightning strike? Get the answers to these questions and more by clicking here.


Everyday Prevention – National Public Health Week

Wilderness medicine providers know that prevention and early intervention are critical to a successful day hike, camping trip, or multiple week expedition. Those same skills of prevention and early intervention are applicable to all aspects of life. Some things you probably do already (or should be) include wearing a seatbelt, not using tobacco, wearing a cycling helmet, and eating whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.

This week is National Public Health Week. Take a moment to watch this video about the important public health challenges facing us and the simple steps we can all take to make the Healthiest Nation in One Generation.

Learn more at generationpublichealth.org.

This blog was submitted by:

Greg Friese, MS, NREMT-P, WEMT
President, Emergency Preparedness Systems LLC

Where’s the Man??? – Japan


The man is currently at Tsubaki Shrine in Mie Prefecture of Japan. WMA Lead Instructor Dave Ramsey sports our classic tee.

Send in your pictures and stories for our ‘Where’s the Man?’ section to .

New WMA Website Feedback from Students

Sometimes you need to be careful about what you ask for, but when launching a new website, you gotta do it!

We wanted to make our new site easier to navigate, chock full of wilderness medical information, and featuring real people in videos. So we asked a recent group of WMA course graduates and this is what some said:

“Hey! Nice job with the web site. I like the eye catching header, the link to courses near me and the YouTube video. I keep describing to people how the course simulated real life situations and helped desensitize me to serious injuries, especially disfigurement, blood and guts (and Cabot’s projective vomiting!). It is great to have the YouTube clip to have my peers view and gain a better understanding of how I was trained.”

“New site looks great! I really like the Q & A and blog sections. Keep up the good work!”

“Like to new website, it was easy to navigate. I enjoyed the questions and answer part with Dr. Johnson the most.”

“The look and feel is really good. I like the Find a Course feature.”

Thanks to all the recent WMA grads who gave us such useful feedback.
Anne Rugg
General Manager