April 2021

Understanding the Role EpiPens Play in Urban and Wilderness Settings

By NCOAE Headquarters April 29, 2021

Wilderness Medicine Training

For those who suffer severe allergic reactions to everything from wasp stings to wheat consumption, getting help — and getting that medical intervention fast — may mean the difference between life and death.

Here at The National Center for Outdoor & Adventure Education (NCOAE), we train our Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) students and Wilderness First Responder (WFR) students in the use of EpiPen, an autoinjector for those suffering a sudden anaphylaxis reaction.

This somewhat imposing emergency medicine tool is an injection device that contains epinephrine, a chemical that narrows blood vessels and opens airways in the lungs. A promptly administered injection may reverse severe low blood pressure, a rash or itchy skin, an alarming shortness of breath, hives, nausea, vomiting, and other symptoms of an allergic reaction.

Anaphylaxis is a life-threatening allergic reaction that requires immediate treatment, whether within the city limits or deep in the backcountry.

And while most anaphylaxis reactions are mild and self-limiting, it is impossible to predict — at least in the beginning — whether a reaction will become life-threatening. As a result, rapid intervention is always critical. A hiker’s risk for anaphylaxis increases if they suffer asthma that is severe or not controlled. Medical conditions such as heart disease can also increase the risk of an episode.

What can trigger an anaphylaxis episode?

The following are among of the most common causes of anaphylaxis:

  • Milk, peanuts, tree nuts, eggs, shellfish, wheat, and soy
  • Stings from bees, wasps, or fire ants
  • Antibiotics, NSAIDs, or aspirin
  • Latex

Adrenaline is the first line treatment for anaphylaxis and is most often administered using an autoinjector such as the EpiPen or drawn from a vial using a needle and syringe. EpiPen autoinjectors are available in two sizes — one for young children and another for those weighing more than 66 pounds. Since epinephrine is a prescription medication, anyone with a history of severe allergic reactions should have a prescription and the device at hand. 

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From Couch Potato to Hiker in Just 4 to 6 Weeks

By Stephen Mullaney April 16, 2021


Apparently, I spent three quarters of last year and a quarter of this year mostly sitting on the couch. I held a beverage in one hand, chips, cheese and crackers in the other (and yes, I can hold that much).

Adding new meaning to the term “binge-watching,” I viewed dozens of subtitled, multi-season detective series from every nation in NATO — all of which I wouldn’t have sat through in the years leading up 2020. Sound familiar to you?

OK. Maybe your pandemic parade didn’t include as many snacks, and maybe you were watching adventure films while wearing your climbing harness on the couch, a rack of gear on the floor. That sound more likely?

But it’s possible that in either scenario, you never pulled back your window curtain to notice the outdoors is still there, just waiting for you to emerge. It’s time to get out from under the duvet, lose the pajama bottoms, and be outdoors more than you’ve been indoors and on your couch over the last 12 months or so.

You probably aren’t in as good of shape as you think

It’s also time to come to terms with reality. You’ve been marinating on a couch for more than a year now. If you were climbing 5.10 early last year, chances are you aren’t doing that now. The living room furniture has become a leech of progress and fitness.

The solution? Allow us to help you see how easy it is to get out of the house and onto the trail for a multi-day backpacking trip.

Most couch-to-5k programs are nine weeks long. However, the guide we put together below is only six weeks. And if you’re willing, you can probably knock that down to four weeks. Why? Because training can get boring. And if you get bored while training, you may never make it to the trail. We here at NCOAE want you on the trail.

So, what we’ve put together below is a guide. It’s not a program. It’s not a plan. Because if we can’t make it fun, you might just remain on the couch, reading subtitles and thinking you speak Swedish.

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Have any further questions about our courses, what you’ll learn, or what else to expect? Contact us, we’re here to help!