Proctor Academy's Mountain Classroom program transitioned back from Winter Break into the cacti-filled desert. Our first days were spent studying Wilderness First Aid in Arizona's beautiful Lost Dutchman State Park. Read more about their first week back below!
The Mountain Classroom group was reunited in Phoenix after a break filled with eagerness to leave the harsh New England weather. We were welcomed to the Southwest with a warm breeze that was all we had hoped for. The group piled onto the bus and off we drove to Lost Dutchman State Park, our home for the next few days. We were all astonished by the gigantic Superstition Mountains at the southern side of the campground.
Our excitement levels were through the roof during the first afternoon. We were sharing jokes around the dinner circle and chattering constantly about whatever went on during break, no matter how ridiculously boring or stupid it seemed. The first morning rolled around and we crawled out of our tents, but the humor and jokes seemed to stay tucked in our sleeping bags. No one was sad or upset, but I think we all knew how important the upcoming days were. Coco and Timbah were about to teach us all we needed to know to potentially save a life in the backcountry. But of course, teenagers will be teenagers so the jokes and excitement came back to life during the first scenario. I guess it’s hard not to laugh when your patient is squirming during a chunk check (a process that involves squeezing and feeling the patients body to find injuries) because they are ticklish.
The process to learn the different first aid skills is so much fun. Coco or Timbah start by explaining and demonstrating the step-by-step routine outlined by SOLO, a NH-based wilderness medicine school. Then it is time for scenarios, which are by far everyone’s favorite part. This is our chance to put our newly acquired skills to work. Since our group has nine students we break into perfect groups of three, one patient and two caregivers. Patients are told that they were on expeditions, like ten-day hikes, bow-hunting trips, or journeys during lightning storms. Then they were told what is broken, bleeding, strained, sprained, or bruised. Basically, they find out when to scream “ouch” during treatment, which we all did very, very loudly. We even had some makeup and fake blood to make it extra realistic. Campers in nearby campsites may have been a little concerned at first glance.
The whole group had a ton of fun becoming certified in Wilderness First Aid, WFA, and CPR but it was a little more personal to me. My dad has been in the medical field for 30-ish years now. As a little kid my sister and I would go visit him and climb around ambulances and helicopters. We got to explore hospitals and hangars, under supervision of course. Because of this I have always had an interest in the medical field and working within it. After taking this class on WFA I feel like I can relate to his profession. Well kind of, he uses his skills to save lives and make a living while I hope to never have to actually use mine.
We wrapped up our WFA training course with an incredible hike to watch the sun set. At our observation point we listened to a poem by Shel Silverstein, “The Perfect High.” The story is about a man who searches for the perfect high that no drug or alcohol can bring him. The moral of the story that I took away is that we always look for a way to make our current situation better, as if we are never satisfied. If you can just sit back and look at what you do have you might find that the perfect high is already in front of you. I think that my perfect high is being with this awesome community of people who make the best out of any situation.