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NIU Outdoor Adventure’s graduate assistant trains to teach wilderness medicine

February 12, 2020

Photo Credit: Fil Sansa (Vernon Hills, IL)

In November 2019, as part of Dan Dunne’s ongoing professional development within his role as a graduate assistant in NIU’s Outdoor Adventures, he traveled to Wyoming to take part in a weeklong National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) Wilderness Medicine Instructor Training Course. A rigorous training that mirrored the selective and demanding application process to secure a seat in the course itself. Of 500 people applying to take the course, 120 received interviews and just 19 of those were invited to participate in the training. After the weeklong training and final evaluations were complete, 16 participants were offered a job.

Participants came from far and wide for a chance to teach wilderness first aid certification courses: Chile, Finland, Mexico and from all over the United States. They also had diverse experiences in medicine, from being a seasoned outdoor educator like Dunne to working as practicing physician, combat medic, search and rescue coordinator, and active firefighter.

“It was an impressive room of experience from which to hear medical horror stories,” said Dunne.

After successfully completing this training, Dunne will be able to instruct NOLS Wilderness Medicine certification courses around the country, but will likely work most of these two-day weekend contracts here in Chicagoland with NOLS and Recreation Equipment, Inc. (REI). Dunne will be teaching a NOLS Wilderness First Aid Training course this coming fall semester here at NIU.

Outdoor Adventures will be organizing this course as part of their new outdoor trip leaders training and also have spots available for those who are interested in learning more about treating injuries and illness in the backcountry.