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Medicine for the Outdoors

Dr. Paul Auerbach is the world's leading outdoor health expert. His blog offers tips on outdoor safety and advice on how to handle wilderness emergencies.

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MedWAR: Medical Wilderness Adventure Race

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 This is another post derived from a presentation given at the 2011 Annual Summer Meeting of the Wilderness Medical Society. Michael Caudell MD from the Medical College of Georgia gave an excellent talk entitled “Scenario-Based Learning in the Wilderness and the Creation of MedWAR.”

MedWAR  (Medical Wilderness Adventure Race) is considered a challenge, and takes preparation and skill to complete. Using simulations, participants have to negotiate a series of medical and wilderness challenges. It involves both individual acumen and group dynamics. The MedWAR model is based on critical actions, all of which begin with scene safety, the “ABCs” (airway, breathing, circulation) of a medical resuscitation, and the particular scenario. Victims may be dressed as victims using moulage to simulate injuries, and scene settings are made as realistic as possible. Wilderness medicine is grounded in realism, and laced with improvisation, stress, creativity, and resourcefulness. The MedWAR concept is one of the most delightful (from my perspective) developments to derive from the field of wilderness medicine.

There is orienteering, survival, wilderness medicine, and much more.  These exercises are very useful, particularly for those who realistically expect to deploy to a disaster or global humanitarian relief setting. As simulation techniques improve, I would expect these challenges to improve, remembering that the best part is “being out there,” away from the classroom and as far as possible from civilization. The only real way to experience life, and wilderness medicine, is to actually do it.

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Tags: Backpacking , Climbing High , General Interest , Humanitarian Care

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About the Author

Dr. Paul S. Auerbach is the world’s leading authority on wilderness medicine.

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