Imagine a white-water rafting trip that ends calamitously with two participants suffering from hypothermia, one with a sprained ankle and howling like a coyote, one with a dislocated shoulder and broken wrist, and one mysteriously wedged between two trees with a broken leg that is grotesquely gushing blood. The only participant temporarily smart enough to escape injury is heating up cocoa for her friends when the stove blows up, leaving her with third-degree burns on her face. I know you’re thinking I have some whacky, morose imagination, and I do, but this would all be very easy to picture if you were part of the Wilderness First Responder training workshop taking place on campus this week.
Compound fractures, anaphylactic shock, heat exhaustion: you name it, you can find it in Marlboro’s verdant woods this week. Run by the Wilderness Medical Association, with support from our very own Outdoor Program, the weeklong WFR workshop is awesome training in first aid, leadership, and gory special effects for anyone who works in remote locations. A bumper crop of 21 outdoor educators, guides, and other kinds of nature-loving professionals are learning to splint, staunch, bandage, carry, and console outdoorsy victims in the most desperate straits. Seven participants are stalwart Marlboro students, preparing for their role as Bridges orientation trip leaders next fall.
Did I mention that one of the paddlers with hypothermia is also diabetic and not responding to treatment because he is in hypoglycemic shock? And the youth who brought the rescuers to the scene is breaking out in hives and having trouble breathing? I tell you, this is any trip leader’s worst nightmare, short of a zombie apocalypse, and these WFR trainees handle it all with the confidence and composure of seasoned first responders. I would put my compound fracture in any of their hands, as soon as I get over the impression that they are all a little accident-prone.