What is Wilderness Medicine?

Preparation for the Unexpected

Have you ever taken an extended hiking trip along the Superior Hiking Trail? Have you paddled into the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness? Or taken a canoe trip down a remote portion of the Cloquet River?

Northern Minnesota and north-western Wisconsin present a multitude of fantastic wilderness opportunities for the adventurous soul. Paddling, hiking, biking… the list goes on and on.

This is why many of us fall in love with the Northwoods Lifestyle – a way of life based on adventure and self-reliance while embodying a sense of community and service to our fellow adventurers. Our exposure to the Minnesota’s wilderness landscape can be both empowering and intimidating in its reality.

For many, the reality of risk associated with our adventure is forgotten – or worse – ignored. But for others, the risk is embraced and planned for. For those self-reliant individuals, the ability to assess risk and prepare oneself for the unexpected is a Northwoods skill as real and as useful as Dutch-oven cooking, walleye fishing, or canoe building. It’s real… and it could save your life or the life of someone you love. Wilderness medicine is a key skill for any expedition – professional or recreational.

What is Wilderness Medicine?

wilderness medicine workshop duluth mn

Students learn real-world skills at The Wilderness Medicine Workshop – held each spring in Duluth. Image: The Duluth Experience.

Wilderness medicine is defined as the use of medical response techniques in an environment that is one or more hours away from definitive medical care. Definitive medical care, of course, refers to a clinic, emergency room, or hospital – access to medical care in the front-country – where the care can come to you in a dire rescue situation.

The backcountry, however, poses a different kind of challenge when a medical emergency presents itself. In fact, these challenges can also arise in relatively close proximity to urban centers and hospitals. It may be less of a distance issue and more of a mobility issue. Will you be ready?

Let’s be honest… if we’re on a summer paddling trip across Lake Saganaga or a cross-country skiing adventure up a local river in the dead of winter… definitive medical care can be far, far away. For this reason, we need to be able to rely on ourselves… and each other. From the application of splinting to the identification and treatment of anaphylactic shock, training in wilderness medicine can be a huge asset to any expedition. For some, it is a crucial professional skill needed to take groups out into remote, wilderness settings. In either scenario, it pays to be prepared.

The Duluth Wilderness Medicine Workshop

The Duluth Experience is committed to creating fun and safe experiences for our guests – on the water and on the trail and we’ve made a commitment to making sure that our guides are ready for any unexpected challenges that might arise in the backcountry. We’re also committed to making the forests and waters of Northern Minnesota safer for all of our visitors.

That’s why we partnered with Longleaf Wilderness Medicine and The Hartley Nature Center to bring the Wilderness Medicine Workshop to Duluth each spring!

duluth wilderness first aid workshop

The Duluth Experience hosts The Wilderness Medicine Workshop at The Hartley Nature Center each spring. Image: The Duluth Experience.

The Wilderness Medicine Workshop is designed to meet the needs of outdoor enthusiasts and wilderness professionals alike with hands-on training in injury prevention, risk assessment, and treatment of injuries and illnesses in remote environments. The two courses will provide up-to-date information and evidence-based treatment guidelines taught by professional educators and experienced medical providers.

If you’re interested in learning more about our next WFA and WFR training, please visit our Wilderness Medicine Workshop Page and reserve your spot today!

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