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If you visit Reedy Creek Nature Center and Preserve next week, don’t be alarmed if you see bodies being carted by on stretchers – or an unusually high number of people with bandages and tourniquets.
Dozens of emergency medical personnel and outdoor and wilderness professionals will be converging on the park to brush up on their emergency medical and rescue skills.
Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation will be hosting an intensive training session through Landmark Learning and the Wilderness Medicine Institute’s National Outdoor Leadership School.
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March 2-10, an 80-hour Wilderness First Responder (WFR) course will teach participants everything from how to care for spinal chord injuries to assessing urinary and reproductive systems issues. It will be held rain or shine, since conditions can be unpredictable on any day.
The basic premise of the training is that if something can happen, it can happen in the wilderness. The course’s students will be prepared to handle it. Among the professionals who the WFR class is geared for are emergency management systems personnel, wilderness guides and residential camp staff.
For those who are interested in broadening their outdoor medical skills, but who may not be professionals or make it a part of their everyday lives, Park and Recreation is offering a less-intensive Wilderness First Aid (WFA) training April 27-28 at Reedy Creek.
These are the first times either course is being offered at a Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation facility.
Reedy Creek is one of Mecklenburg County’s three large nature centers and preserves.
Trevor Hudspeth, an outdoor recreation specialist in the county’s Nature Preserves and Natural Resources division, says classes like the WFR and WFA are usually offered in popular outdoor recreational areas like Western North Carolina. He added that Charlotte is an appropriate exception because it is a central location for the course’s participants and because Reedy Creek provides the necessary amenities.
“(Reedy Creek) has a location that’s close to lodging, if people need it,” said Hudspeth. “Reedy Creek is a nice preserve. It has a combination of large wooded areas and suitable classroom space.”
The classroom training will be held in Shelter No. 3 but plenty of instruction will take place in the outdoors. Among topics the training covers are altitude illness, search and rescue, lightning injuries, fracture management and traction splinting.
Cost of the WFR training is $650. Cost for the WFA training in April is $200. As of Feb. 15, Landmark Learning’s executive director, Justin Padgett, said that about half of the 30 available slots for WFR were full.
Hudspeth says that the county’s outdoor recreation specialists are responsible for teaching recreational skills such as kayaking and wilderness survival skills, performing custom programming for schools and guiding outdoor trips. In May, for example, an overnight kayaking trip on Mountain Island Lake is scheduled.
Because his two-year WFR certification is about to expire, Hudspeth will be one of the course’s students next week. It is not required for someone in his position, but it obviously supports his professional growth.
“I think it instills a little bit of confidence in our clients on the trips that we take,” said Hudspeth.
Mecklenburg Park and Recreation staff have taken Landmark Learning classes before. Last year, Hudspeth was one of several staff receiving his American Canoe Association certification through the Cullowhee-based company.