The Department of Homeland Security has developed new Austere Protocol guidelines (with the input of Mountain Medicine Staff) to address potentially catastrophic disasters where the only trained help available are local rescue squads. We simulate the reality of creating a facility given the total breakdown of all outside support and utilities. Given our experience in Haiti, there are few others who know the realities of this situation better.
ABOUT MOUNTAIN MEDICINE
Mountain Medicine was founded in 1978 by a group of physicians, EMTs, and nurses who saw the need to teach medical responders skills to deal with accidents that happened out of their normal milieu. In the founders’ statement, our purpose is “To promote mountain safety and to teach medical and evacuation skills and knowledge associated with emergency management of victims of mountain or wilderness accidents or illness.” It was ahead of its time, and predates many of the newer wilderness medicine or first aid organizations that have come into existence.
For over 35 years Mountain Medicine has carried on the tradition of its founders, and has evolved to incorporate the latest in wilderness medicine guidelines in its programs. Believing strongly in experiential based education, the bulk of our learning experiences are hands on and out in the field, to best prepare our students to deal with situations that are often encountered in a wilderness setting.
In 2011, Mountain Medicine responded to the desperate situation of the Haitian people after the earthquake. There we saw the strange similarity between wilderness medicine and disaster medicine. Both encounter problem solving with limited resources. Since then we have adopted the philosophy that both disaster and wilderness medicine are paradigms for problem solving in limited resource environments, and now incorporate learning scenarios that encompass both of these disciplines.
Mountain Medicine courses are designed to work through this type of problem solving utilizing critical thinking skills, foster leadership development in working with peers, and continually explore the concepts of survival, both physically and emotionally, for rescuers and those they care for in situations where the environment can be hostile and unforgiving.