Creteau Center students get training in wilderness first aid

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A student practices the patient assessment skill during a Wilderness First Aid course offered to students at the R.W. Creteau Center. (Courtesy/Rochester Public Schools)

ROCHESTER - The Richard W. Creteau Regional Technology Center recently offered a Wilderness First Aid course to interested students and plans to offer similar courses in the future.

Hannah and Tom Welsh, co-founders of EMTechTutoring and Creative Classroom Solutions, led a two-day, 16-hour introductory course in Wilderness First Aid in which 16 students participated. EMTechTutoring, based in Dover, uses experiential learning to provide EMS programs, wilderness courses, and creative classroom ideas.

The course touched on patient assessment, bleeding management and shock, musculoskeletal injuries and splinting, spinal cord injuries and treatment, soft tissue injuries, wound care, injuries caused by heat and cold, and lightning emergencies.

"Teaching high school students EMT work is difficult because it's adult-level material, so we try to make it exciting and motivate students. Students really enjoy this because it's hands-on, and many of them are Scouts or like the outdoors," said Hannah Welsh. "These wilderness skills include engineering and building splints, evaluating a scene and how close additional care is, and other critical thinking skills, collaboration, and leadership."

EMTechTutoring offers both two-day, 16-hour courses, as well as a more comprehensive eight-day, 72- to 80-hour course, which includes training in basic life support CPR and other more in-depth topics.

Hannah Welsh said the 16-hour course prepares students for certifications they need to work as camp counselors, which can help students find summer employment, in addition to providing a fun and accessible entry into medical-related fields.

"This exposes students to something that's very adult, and a lot of responsibility, but it does it in a way that's very hands-on and a fun side of medicine," said Tom Welsh. "Wilderness First Aid is a great way to get a taste for this kind of work and training."

Creteau Center Director Halligan-Foley said the course offered this spring was the first at the center, but that administrators hope to begin weaving the courses into related career pathways, such as Environmental Science and Health Science.

"This was our pilot program just to see how things would go, and the students who participated enjoyed themselves and gained both skills and confidence," said Halligan-Foley. "As we move forward we'll be looking for opportunities to expand this and put something in place so its available to students every year."

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