UB Outdoor Pursuits will now offer critical first aid training

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Russ Cripell, director of Outdoor Pursuits in Student Life, wants UB students to imagine going on a hike with a group of friends when, suddenly, one of the group members slips and falls down a steep slope. When the group arrives to help the member that fell down the hill they find he is bleeding and unconscious.

Crispell wants to know: What would you do next?

This is the kind of scenario that Crispell believes is possible when participating in one of the many activities hosted by the Office of Outdoor Pursuits in Student Life.

“Knowing that there is an increase in the amount of people going out into the back country, there’s also a need to make sure that when [students] go out, they are in a safe environment,” Crispell said.

UB Outdoor Pursuits is part of Student Life and offers a variety of team building activities, local and foreign travel trips and equipment rentals.

On March 5-8 eight UB students and two faculty members were trained and certified through UB Outdoor Pursuits and Student Life to become wilderness first responders. The classroom training took place in the Student Union with supplemental outdoor training held at Nature View Park, approximately 5 miles north of North Campus. It prepared its participants to become knowledgeable wilderness leaders.

The wilderness first responder course, which was funded through a grant by the Student Association, is a rigorous 65-hour course designed to prepare those that lead groups in the wilderness. CDS Outdoor Inc., an internationally recognized provider of remote, austere and wilderness medical training, provided the training that was conducted over 3 days of intensive study and outdoor practice.

At the completion of the course CDS Outdoor Inc. awards each student a certificate. In order to receive a completion certificate, students must already hold a current Advanced Wilderness First Aid certificate (AWFA), meet the course skill objectives, attend all class sessions and pass the written test with a score of 80 percent or better. The certification is then valid for a period of three years.

Students receive intensive training in first aid approach, anatomy and physiology, patient assessment, airway management, basic pharmacology, wilderness survival, search and rescue and recognition of medical problems.

Crispell, who already has his AWFA certificate, helped train students last week and will be helping students become wilderness first responders in the future.

“As the programs are growing here in Student Life and for the university, and the demands of people wanting to venture into the wild [increases], so does the importance of providing critical wilderness first aid and first responder experience [for our] trip leaders,” Crispell said.

Scenarios like the one Crispell described are what led Outdoor Pursuits to seek the training for his students. He felt that the training was necessary for his trip leaders given the increase in the demand of his program since his office moved from the Athletics Department to Student Life last semester.

UB Outdoor Pursuits has been working with CDS Outdoor Inc., based out of Valencia, Pennsylvania, for the past 12 years.

Newly certified trainers will be better prepared to tackle emergency situations should they ever encounter one during an Outdoor Pursuit event.

Don Szumigala, adjunct instructor in Athletics, feels that the training is even useful beyond the wilderness environment.

“A lot of the skills that students will learn are skills that they can use in their daily life,” Szumigala said. “If you’re at home and fall and injure yourself, before you can contact additional care, students will now be able to take care of injuries on their own.”

Kevin Santa, a senior environmental geosciences major and president of UB Outdoor Adventure Club, attended the training. Santa felt the need to become certified because of his role as a leader in the club and as a trip leader in many of the events hosted by the Office of Outdoor Pursuits.

“I feel a lot more comfortable going out into the woods and going out with friends,” Santa said. “If something happens I know what to do – it takes a load off my mind knowing what I know now.”

In May, the Office of Outdoor Pursuits is hosting its annual trip to Alaska for the 21st year. The wilderness training will be useful for this trip because students will participate in various activities including backpacking, canoeing, fishing, sea-kayaking and camping on the Iditarod Trail.

In the near future, the university community will also be able to be certified first responders through a class offered by Outdoor Pursuits.

Jose Escobar is a contributing news writer and can be contacted at news@ubspectrum.com