A Day in the Wild - Annual Intern Wilderness Day
A Prehospital Primer
July 24th was the annual Wilderness Medicine Day for the intern class. Each orientation cycle provides an opportunity to demonstrate to new residents what conditions can be like for wilderness first responders and rescue teams. Perhaps more importantly, it serves as a primer to the prehospital environment and fosters an understanding of what it might be like for a patient injured in an austere environment. For their experience, the new interns, accompanied by Dr Mann, sallied forth to Bad Creek in upper Oconee county, about an hour’s drive from downtown Greenville. Adjacent to upper Lake Jocassee, the Bad Creek region is a remote area short on roads, and mostly accessible by boats, foot trails, or rotor wing aircraft.
Simulated Rescue with SC HART
The day served as a joint exercise with Oconee County special rescue, and the local South Carolina HART (helicopter aquatic rescue team). Residents were transported by rescue boat to a distant inlet of the lake adjacent a steeply sloping sandbar, where they were taught the principles of patient packaging and extraction in the wilderness environment. After safely lowering a simulated patient in a stokes basket to the water’s edge, a helicopter long line winch extrication was undertaken. Four evolutions with HART’s UH-72 Lakota were completed, each time hoisting an intern off of the roof deck of the rescue boat and into the safety of the hovering aircraft about 200 feet above.
The second half of the day provided a change in scenery, with the special rescue team members and the interns descending via trail towards the popular foothills trail system. At a convenient and snug river crossing, the team participated in three more helicopter hauls, each individual being hauled from an ait in the river, up through the blowing leaves and into the blue. The excitement gathered a few passing hikers who stopped to watch the activities. While fun for all of those involved, the experience was also educational and served as a great introduction to wilderness medicine practice.