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A wilderness emergency medical technician is a person who provides medical assistance to an injured person in the wilderness. In most cases, the wilderness can be considered any area that is approximately one hour from the nearest hospital or other urban medical provider. In general, she is responsible for taking care of an injured person from the time she reaches the patient until the time the patient is taken to a hospital. Although a wilderness emergency medical technician may have many of the same duties as a traditional emergency medical technician, she also has additional duties, such as staying with the injured person for an extended period of time and performing advanced medical procedures. She may also be forced to use limited resources to care for and transport the injured person.
Since a wilderness emergency medical technician will not know what kinds of injuries a victim will face in a remote area, she must be skilled and confident in a wide range of medical procedures. To begin with, she must be able to accurately assess an injured person’s injuries. She should be able to do routine procedures, such as splint a limb, administer cardiopulmonary resuscitation, or apply stitches to an open wound. In addition, she should be able to use a catheter, start an IV, or open obstructed breathing passages, all while in a wilderness setting.
If a spinal injury is suspected, a wilderness emergency medical technician should be able to assess the severity of the injury. From there, she should be able to decide whether or not the injured party should be moved. In addition, she must relay information back to back-up supporters. As a result, she should be able to decide if the person should be airlifted from the environment via helicopter or whether the person should be carried out on a backboard or other method of transportation.
Some of the wilderness emergency medical technician jobs are quite specific to the outdoors. For example, she should be able to treat bites and stings. In addition, she may be required to treat a person who has been struck by lightning, has been in an avalanche, or who is suffering from hypothermia, heat stroke, or frostbite. She may also help patients who have symptoms such as confusion due to high altitudes.
An urban emergency medical technician has the benefit of having medical equipment, drugs, and other lifesaving devices at her fingertips. In many cases, a wilderness emergency medical technician only has the equipment that she can carry in her backpack or in rare cases via horse. In addition, a wilderness emergency medical technician may do more in-depth medical procedures compared to a traditional emergency medical technician. For example, a wilderness emergency medical technician may perform an emergency surgical procedure that would traditionally be performed in a hospital setting by a licensed physician. Because of her training, she may be hired to lead groups into the wilderness, work at summer camps, or work with local or national parks to treat injured people.