Best practices for evaluating and transporting patients with potential spinal fractures or spinal cord injuries is a hot topic in emergency medicine. And it’s no wonder. All of us who work in the adventure programming and emergency medical services field fervently want to avoid causing or worsening a potentially catastrophic injury to someone’s spinal cord.
As such, and for many decades, EMS officials dogmatically insisted that “immobilizing” patients with potential spine injuries was the best protection from further harm. Protocol demanded rigid backboards, cervical collars, head blocks, and yards of tape and straps to prevent someone who is injured from moving. However, new research suggests this is not only ineffective, but quite likely harmful.
Immobilization Dismissed as the Tool of Choice for Patient Transport
Anyone suffering a spinal injury could have a spinal fracture. And that fracture could be unstable. So, if your client (i.e., patient in this case) moved even a little bit (like turning their head), that unstable spinal fracture could slide around and cause spinal cord injury. And that spinal cord injury could cause them to be paralyzed forever.
The Old School solution was to prevent them from moving on their own. Only let trained first responders (including outdoor educators, field instructors, and guides who are certified in wilderness medicine) lift/move the injured patient. Immobilize them to a rigid device — essentially a full-body splint — and get them out of the backcountry and to a hospital.
Upon what was this edict based? Essentially nothing. A few case reports that, on closer scrutiny, don’t indicate any (more…)
A few years ago, we ran a three-part series on slogans, slang, and terminology as it applies to a trio of human-powered outdoor recreational activities. If you recall, we started out with some “gnarly” surfing terms, then we “tied in” to a conversation about climbing, finally pulling a “wet exit” on the language of paddling.
You can review these three articles using the links below:
- From Sept. 20, 2020: Surfing Terminology and Slang: You Can’t Play BINGO Without the Lingo
- From Oct. 10, 2020: On Belay — Climbing Terminology and Slang
- From Oct. 30, 2020: Paddling Terminology and Slang: Nobody Says ‘Up a River Without an Oar’
There was quite a bit of word whimsy in those articles, and we made sure to remind readers that successfully lassoing the linguistics of a particular activity was no guarantee you were mastering that particular sport professionally.
Today we’re taking a more serious look at language, this time highlighting the terminology used by members of the Emergency Medical Service (EMS) community. That’s because one of our areas of focus here at The National Center for Outdoor & Adventure Education (NCOAE) is emergency medicine training and education. And whether you’re an EMS, medical professional, or wilderness first responder (WFR), these terms are most often employed when these professionals find themselves managing a medical emergency.
First off, you might notice that most of these terms come in the form of acronyms, abbreviations, and initials, and the reason for that is to enable first responders to quickly communicate and react with each other and the patient in the field.
The source for these acronyms comes from the NCOAE Wilderness Medicine Field Guide (ISBN 978-0-578-87449-4).
Here, we present them in alphabetical order: (more…)
Applicants to our nationally renowned EMT training courses often ask us if they can take
their new EMT credentials to the state where they live, and the answer is mostly yes.
The National Center for Outdoor and Adventure Education’s (NCOAE) campus is
located in North Carolina, where we offer 21-day “Intensive” EMT-Basic and 23-day
“Intensive” Advanced EMT training courses among others. Successful completion of
these courses authorize our graduates to take the National Registry of Emergency
Medical Technicians (NREMT) exam.
National Registry Certification examinations evaluate the competence of EMS
practitioners at a variety of levels, including Emergency Medical Responder (EMR),
Emergency Medical Technician (EMT), Advanced Emergency Medical Technician
(AEMT), and Paramedic.
NREMT credentials are either required for an initial license or accepted for legal
recognition or reciprocity in all 50 states and Puerto Rico. That makes it easier to
If Gordon Harrison’s name sounds familiar to you, that likely means one of two things: You either know him personally or you’re a fan of the water sport known as wakeboarding.
David “Gordon” Harrison (the third) recently graduated from one of our 19-Day ‘Intensive’ EMT-Basic training courses. And as you probably figured out by now, this native of Caroline County, Va. (who now calls Melbourne Beach, Fla. his home), holds the distinction of being the only professional athlete to enroll in that course — or any course for that matter here at The National Center for Outdoor & Adventure Education.
Harrison started wakeboarding as a child and become good enough in high school to be invited by the World Wake Association to join the Jr. Pro Wakeboard Tour. Suffice to say, he’s never looked backward since.
For the uninitiated, wakeboarding is a water-based sport in which the athlete — standing on a short board with foot bindings known as a wakeboard— is towed behind a motorboat across its wake, allowing the athlete to crest the wake for aerial maneuvers. In Harrison’s case, he’s so proficient at wakeboarding that he’s only one of a handful of people on the planet capable of making a living as a professional wakeboarder.
So, what possesses someone living the life of a pro athlete to drop everything and spend 19 days with us in North Carolina preparing to sit to for the NREMT (National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians) exam? That’s what we wanted to know. Here’s what Harrison had to say, in his own words: (more…)