Future rural medical doctors train for ‘unexpected’ emergencies in the wilderness

The students learn to provide emergency medical care with what's available around them
Published: Oct. 14, 2022 at 6:08 PM CDT
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - Preparing for the unexpected is part of the curriculum for future rural doctors in state.

Medical students in Northeast Wisconsin took part in a 3-day course at Aurora BayCare Medical Center to learn how to use every-day items to treat medical emergencies in rural areas.

“They get great training for patients in high resource facilities, like hospitals and clinics,” said Dr. Mike Medich, director for medical education at Aurora BayCare Medical Center. “What they don’t get in traditional education is providing medical care in low resource settings.”

The course is called Advanced Wilderness Life Support and it’s for medical students in the Wisconsin Academy of Rural Medicine (WARM) program.

Students used items like canoe paddles, tarps, sleeping bags and ski polls to triage patients in the wilderness.

‘You have to think outside box and make more with less, that is what this entire course is about, whether hiking in Door County or in Devils Lake, as soon people find out you are a medical professional, you are gonna be expected to come up with something and this course does that and makes us think outside the box to make things happen,” said Brock Gilsdorf, a medical student.

Students are given real-life scenarios to treat. For example, a person falling while out for a hike or breaking a leg while canoeing.

“You won’t have splinting material like a hospital, but use a paddle or hiking pole, and use clothing to wrap wounds and so that is what this is teaching,” said Dr. Medich.

“I think it applies to every field of medicine… using resources you have and forcing you to think outside the box and come up with ideas you wouldn’t in the hospital because we don’t have those resources,” said Isaac Dzubay, a medical student.

Dr. Medich said this training also helps future rural doctors train for disaster relief or mission work overseas.

“This gets them in the mindset of taking care of patients with really low resources,” said Dr. Medich.

The Advanced Wilderness Life Support program at Aurora BayCare Medical Center is now considered a mandatory part of the core curriculum for students in the Wisconsin Academy of Rural Medicine throughout the state.

Medical students are now required to get training to respond to an unexpected emergency with anything at their disposal