Fake Wound, Real Lesson

When was the last time you were placed in a life or death situation? What were you thinking and feeling and how did you react? If you’re anything like myself prior to WFA, you would most likely stand there in a panic and patiently await for someone else to come to the rescue. WFA stands for Wilderness First Aid and is a course provided by the Hanifel Centre that gave me with information to prevent, recognize, and treat medical and traumatic emergencies encountered in remote settings. Before I elaborate any further, I would like to point out the fact that the corresponding photo IS NOT REAL and was used as part of a scenario for the course.

There’s a reason I did not choose to major in biology or go the pre-med route; bodily functions and memorization make me nauseous. When I signed up for a leadership study abroad program, I did not intend to learn about anatomic functions. However, I was aware of the fact that we had to take the WFA course.

To my surprise, a lot of the patterns and concepts covered in WFA have a direct correlation and application to leadership. The main transferable skill/process to leadership we covered was the Aerie theory (no, not the clothing company).  Aerie theory is all about taking the vantage point of a raptor. As a leader, this vantage point includes looking around and deciding what priorities need to be tended to first. Along these same lines, we also were required to complete a scene survey prior to treating a patient. A scene survey would consist of: keeping yourself and the patient safe, seeing what happened by locating surrounding clues, asking if more people are involved, and assessing the vibe. These two transferable skills stood out to me in the context of leadership because of their strategic nature. As a leader, you never know what type of situation you will be placed in and should be able to effectively assess and therefore delegate any circumstance.

Another WFA transferable skill I learned were the 6 C’s; consent and intro, competence, confidence, compassion, and control (of the situation). When you introduce yourself to followers and state your qualifications (e.g. Hello, my name is Elise and I am trained in WFA, may I have permission to help you?), you gain a lot more respect and trust. Whether it be a club you are managing or a patient you are treating, possessing these six C’s will make one a more reliable and effective leader.

In between learning how to save lives I have squeezed in a few morning runs here in Mussoorie, India. A huge cultural difference I’ve had to come to terms with is the fact that vehicles operate on the LEFT side of the road. As a runner, this has been a large shift from my standard expectations of right side vehicles in the US. Along those same lines, cars here tend to beep frequently as a signal to others that they are coming (it would a bit aggressive if done in America). Lastly, I am only to brush my teeth with purified drinking water and am not allowed to drink the tap water under any circumstances. How have I been managing these differences? Practice. Just like Wilderness Fist Aid has taught me, I have (with practice) become more aware of my surroundings and situation.