May 2024

A Fresh Look at Spinal Injury Care in the Backcountry

By Todd Mullenix May 30, 2024

Wilderness Medicine

In wilderness medicine, the traditional response to a potential spinal injury has emphasized immobilizing the patient to prevent further injury. To this end, emergency responders have been trained to use advanced immobilization techniques and equipment, such as rigid cervical collars and spinal boards in conjunction with manual stabilization. 

And while nobody educated in emergency medicine would argue against the importance of motion restriction, the priority is shifting as doctors and emergency personnel consider it in the larger context of overall patient health and safety.

NCOAE students working on a mock spinal injury wilderness medicine training

Given the importance of the spine in a person’s overall health, the focus on immobilizing patients with suspected spinal injury is no surprise. The spine protects the spinal cord, which functions like a fiber-optic network to carry signals throughout the body to and from the brain. Interruptions in the continuity of the spinal cord can dramatically impact a person’s ability to move and to interpret and interact with the world.

However, over the last few decades, the medical community has acquired a vast body of evidence concerning care for a person with an obvious or potential spinal injury. As a result, recent years have seen a significant shift in thinking on this subject. The conversation regarding the extent to which a spinal injury is impacted by subsequent treatment and transport has evolved into a rather heated debate that’s (more…)

Continue Reading

Meet the NCOAE Student: Will Newman, Hybrid EMT Course Graduate

By NCOAE Headquarters May 20, 2024

Student Profiles

Shortly after graduating from The National Center for Outdoor and Adventure Education’s Intensive Hybrid EMT course, Will Newman began working for Pender EMS and Fire in Burgaw, North Carolina, as an EMT. He recently completed orientation and is eager to serve the rural communities of Pender County as a medical provider.

Will credits his instructors at NCOAE for their ongoing commitment to his success after graduation, highlighting one instructor in particular for their continued communication and help in securing employment at an EMS agency. He noted that the dedication of our instructors to their students’ success is what makes our EMT training programs so unique.

NCOAE graduates holding completion certificates
Will Newman (right) with high school friend, Riley Myer (left), who completed their NCOAE Intensive Hybrid EMT course at the same time.

Additionally, this North Carolina native continues to volunteer at the emergency department in nearby Scott’s Hill, where he has applied many of his new EMT skills. Will’s long-term goal is to attend medical school, and he plans to apply during the next application cycle.

NCOAE’s Ongoing Education Opportunities

If you’re wondering, the NCOAE 21-day Hybrid EMT certification course is as intensive as it sounds. It meets the eligibility requirements for the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians and offers reciprocity for state EMT credentials. The course includes 10 days of virtual instructor-led training and 11 days of hands-on practical skills training at our east coast location in Wilmington, NC.

As a pre-med student in college, Will was inspired to pursue his EMT credentials while volunteering at an emergency department. There, he observed EMS providers in action, sparking his interest in emergency medical services. Aiming to become a physician, Will believes working in a pre-hospital setting will help him become a strong patient advocate.

He acknowledges NCOAE EMT instructors David, Phillip, Kate, and Blake for bringing classroom instruction to life by integrating their personal emergency services experience with the course material. This dynamic approach enabled Will to quickly earn his credential and secure employment after graduation.

Will’s future opportunities at Pender EMS and Fire include joining the agency’s special operations teams, such as swift water rescue, for which he plans to apply once he gains more experience as an EMT.

If you’d like to have the kind of emergency service career that Will has, start with the NCOAE 21-day Hybrid EMT certification course. And if you’re planning on applying to medical school, read “Gaining the Clinical Experience to Get into Med School: EMT Training and Direct Patient Care,” here on the NCOAE blog.

Continue Reading

Wilderness Medicine: Accounting for Challenging Terrain

By Todd Mullenix May 8, 2024

Wilderness Medicine

When some hear the term “wilderness medicine,” they think of those rusty out-of-date First Aid kits that they used to carry with them on a personal hiking or camping trip. “As if that thing is going to do any good in an emergency.”  

In fact, to the average summer weekend outdoor enthusiast, wilderness medicine is limited to treating minor cuts, scrapes, bruises, sprains, bites and poison ivy. A major tragedy would be the occasional broken bone. But it has always been much more than that. 

To realize just how broad wilderness medicine really is, all you need to do is travel back to Antarctica in 1961. That’s when Russian explorer Leonid Rogozov suffered a severe case of appendicitis. Being the only medical doctor on site, he had to perform his own appendectomy. That’s among the extremes of what wilderness medicine is all about.

Rescuers in the Thailand cave rescue from 2018

More recently, the Thailand cave rescue shined the spotlight on wilderness medicine. Thousands of rescue workers and medical personnel, including Thai Navy Seals, the national police, doctors, and nurses, rallied to save 12 teenagers and their soccer coach, all trapped in a complex cave system by floodwaters during a heavy rain. Rescuers had to locate and extract 13 people, some of whom couldn’t swim, from a flooded, two and a half mile stretch of caves. 

The rescue tested experienced divers who struggled to navigate currents and squeeze through the narrow passages. Rescuers had to (more…)

Continue Reading


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