Train NEK's Outdoor Classroom

Dear friends,

We look forward to hosting you in a course soon, in as safe a manner as possible, using the below measures. We’ll assume any one of us might be an asymptomatic carrier. These measures are to ensure that even if one student is COVID-positive, no one else in the course except that person’s “patient” partner would be considered a close contact in need of quarantining.

A Train NEK WFA student makes a bomber leg splint WHILE wearing a mask!

Students with SOLO cards that expired in or before December of 2020 are eligible for a six-month extension – giving you through June 2021 to recertify. But, courses are filling quickly so don’t delay! Here is a link to the Train NEK WFR Refresher dates. Here are the Train NEK Wilderness First Aid options. And here are Train NEK Wilderness First Responder dates. Eventbrite registration links are on each page, or you can always mail a check to save Eventbrite fees. 

Wilderness medicine taught in a ventilated greenhouse

COVID “Patient” Partners FAQs

Why Do I Need to Partner with Someone?

The main goal is to teach you how to assess and respond to human traumatic and medical conditions in the backcountry. There is a long tradition of wilderness medical students working with their cohort in various combinations to meet this goal. The big change with COVID is minimizing close contact as much as possible. To that end, you will each be assigned your own CPR manikin which you can use throughout the course for practicing face-to-face assessment and intervention skills. In addition, each person needs one partner for practicing critical backcountry provider skills such as rolling patients, assessing breathing, performing physical exams, splinting arms and legs, stabilizing pelvic fractures, etc. – all with real-time feedback from a real person. You can probably find courses that don’t require practicing skills on humans, which is fine; they just have different goals.

What Does It Look Like for Me to Bring My Own “Patient” Partner?

Your “patient” partner can either register for the course as any other student would, or audit the course at no cost. If they want to audit, just provide us with their name and contact information so we can share important information with them. We hope and trust they will enjoy going through the course with you!

Either way, the course format relies heavily on intermixing didactic and practical sessions, so your “patient” partner will be an active and important part of your learning whether or not they seek certification. Since students learn a LOT by taking turns being a patient, the ideal buddy is one who participates fully and takes turns “rescuing” you – and who has been listening to the lectures and so can give credible feedback. We heartily welcome your patient-partner to audit at no cost, but if they are completely disinterested in the material you might prefer partnering with another student. This is especially important for the eight-day WFR. 

One of the absolute joys of teaching over the last year has been seeing students bond in a whole new way with people they care about. Since Spring of 2020 we’ve had more parents with children, grandparents, siblings, and life partners working together than we’ve seen in the last two decades combined. It isn’t for everyone, but if you recreate with the people you love, or worry about the decisions they might face “out there”, taking a course together is a fabulous opportunity and an experience you won’t soon forget.  

What Does It Look Like for Me to be Paired with Another Student?

If you decide to get paired with another student, let us know and we’ll keep our eyes peeled for a student in your class who needs a buddy. We can’t promise one will materialize, but letting us know early and being flexible on course dates is helpful, and so far it has been working out.
When we find you a partner, we’ll introduce you two by email so you’ll have a chance to discuss in advance your particular situation and any precautions you are taking. 

You and your partner will have room to be socially distanced during lectures. You’ll be asked to wear wrap-around eye protection and gloves during practical sessions in addition to well-fitting face masks. And, since the course takes place entirely outdoors there is endless ventilation. That said, it is not without risk. You should feel free to ask of each other any further measures that make you more comfortable, both before and during the course.

We want you in the class, and we think we’ll be able to work something out, but if we can’t find you a partner or you aren’t comfortable with them for any reason – or if you get sick for that matter – we will credit you or refund your course tuition, no questions asked. NOTE: Eventbrite is no longer refunding their fees if you cancel, even if it’s due to COVID, so we recommend sending a check instead.

Why Give a Choice? We Don’t Choose Our Patients in Real Life.

As emergency care providers we should be prepared to treat anyone at any time, taking precautions to limit everyone’s risk. Regardless of who you have as your patient, you’ll learn how to take full infection control precautions so you leave the course confident in your abilities to do so. 

But everyone has a different comfort level while learning in this climate. For some, having a non-socially-distanced partner as a default allows them to relax and focus on the material more. We’re able to offer a choice and so we do, so students can consider and take responsibility for their own comfort level.  

Do Non-Certifying “Patient” Partners Need to be Continually Present?

For Wilderness First Aid: Yes.

For the Wilderness First Responder: You could get by without a partner on Days Two and Eight. Day Two is all CPR, and you’ll have a manikin for that. Day Eight there won’t be any practical sessions, except in the rare instance that someone needs to completely retake their practical exam. There will also be smaller chunks of time here and there (usually between 30 to 60 minutes) when a partner could zone out for a bit – but we can’t predict when those times will come, as there are so many moving parts. We’ll do our best to give you notice whenever we can.

Take care and we hope to see you soon!


Train NEK's Outdoor Classroom

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© Train NEK | Wilderness Medicine 2020