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5 Steps to Saving Lives

How the pros treat an injured hiker
saving lives illo 445x260Illustrations by Supercorn

Your buddy fell while downclimbing Longs Peak—do you know how to react? When serious accidents happen hours or days from help, the steps you take directly impact his survival odds and path to recovery. Ideally, you will be able to diagnose and treat a range of injuries, as well as stabilize your patient until experts arrive. Guides and other pros master these skills in a Wilderness First Responder (WFR) course, but the intensive training takes up to 10 days and costs hundreds. What’s a time-strapped hiker to do? A good first step is to learn the five-tier WFR Patient Assessment System, which we’ve detailed here along with its nifty mnemonic memory devices.

The patient assessment system outlined in these articles is adapted from contributing editor Buck Tilton’s Wilderness First Responder ($35; For WFR certification information: NOLS Wilderness Medical Institute (, Wilderness Medical Associates (, and Stonehearth Open Learning Opportunities (

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