We’re raising awareness about wilderness medicine and shining a light on interesting adventurers who have earned their Wilderness First Aid certificate or higher.
From making sure his friends are drinking water to caring for a man on a mountain in Nepal, Brad Smith has had ample opportunities to use his wilderness medicine skills. Learn more about Brad’s love for community and his dedication to learning how to care for fellow hikers!
Read on to get inspired and then join us November 3-5 for the Wilderness First Aid Course and Backpacking Adventure!
Wilderness First Aid Spotlight: Brad Smith
What is your current occupation?
Sustainability Specialist for Boulder County
What is your level of Wilderness First Aid training?
What inspired you to get certified?
Self reliance was a big motivator for me. When I was in college, someone was always getting hurt and most of the time it was me. I wanted to learn how to fix these things. I also really value community and I wanted to learn how to take care of others.
I found myself in nature or in non-urban areas a lot and wanted to be able to take care of myself and others and be confident that I could keep my cool in a challenging situation.
I wanted to be a responsible outdoorsperson and know how to mitigate risk and fix something when it breaks, because inevitably things break. I was also testing out if I wanted to pursue a career in medicine.
What was your favorite part of the course?
My favorite part of the course was being outside. The scenarios were great. I also really enjoyed the people I met and the culture I fell into and the exposure. Every time I do my recertification, the people I meet are so incredible and they come from all over the country and lines of work. I’ve always found that really inspirational.
Have you had to use your skills in the field?
Yes. It ranges from really simple things like taking care of blisters and focusing on preventative health care like asking my trail mates, “Are we hydrated?” Or, “You seem a little loopy right now, when was the last time you drank or ate because it’s 110 degrees out here?”
Both in urban and non-urban settings I’ve gotten to use trauma related skills. When I was in Nepal, we were up at a basecamp and a gentleman dislocated his shoulder. Somehow out of all the people there, no one else knew how or weren’t comfortable stepping in and helping. The approach I took was weight the person’s arm and in time the muscles relaxed and popped back into place. We had called a helicopter so the helicopter came and picked him up and I got a free beer out of it. What I remember most is just sitting with the guy.
The most important thing I’ve learned from wilderness medicine is just relax.
The technical skills are important but when things go wrong, it’s important you keep your cool. The ability to remain calm or to be able to assess a scene and not do so in a rushed away is really important. That’s something that traverses across all sorts of arenas from the wilderness to life at a desk job. When there are a bunch of fires burning (at work or on the trail), take a deep breath. Take a step back and assess the scene.
We are of no assistance to others when we are part of the chaos.
I believe that whether someone is in a desk job and just likes to spend time in non-urban settings on the weekends or is an aspiring guide, a wilderness medicine course will help you better understand yourself, connect you to other like-minded people, and give you some incredible skills in the process!
Have you earned your WFA or higher? Share your experience in the blog comments below and tag #wilderness1st to promote wilderness preparedness within your community!