Train NEK's Outdoor Classroom

We look forward to having you in our outdoor classroom soon, using the best practices below. 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!
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 medicine 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 and outcomes.

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.

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.

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

Let us know if you want to be paired with another student. We can’t promise one will materialize, but so far that has been working out well.
We’ll introduce partners by email so you 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’re asked to wear eye protection (ideally wrap-around) and gloves in addition to well-fitting face masks during up close practical sessions, as you would with a patient. 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 fewer or further measures that make you more comfortable, both before and during the course.

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 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 instance that someone needs to 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.

Train NEK's Outdoor Classroom

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© Train NEK | Wilderness Medicine 2020