EMS Today, Training

Off-Site Pre-Conference Workshops Provide Hands-On Training in the Snow at EMS Today 2017

The hands-on workshop Emergency Medicine in the Snow was a truly unique opportunity for EMS Today 2017 attendees that included training for operations conducted in prolonged cold, basic avalanche rescue and winter survival tactics specific to a snowy environment.

Ten participants worked with six instructors to properly use beacons and probes to locate avalanche survivors, build a fire in the wilderness, make a helipad using snow and practice proper technique for transporting patients on snow-covered, mountainous terrain. They even built a snow shelter known as a quinzhee. This full-day workshop took place Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2017, at Big Cottonwood Canyon—approximately three miles from Solitude Ski Resort, about 30 minutes outside Salt Lake City, Utah, the home of EMS Today 2017.

Students had the opportunity to get out into a snowy and cold environment to experience real-life settings for snow rescue that they could never get in a classroom. Temperatures changed throughout the day and snow accumulated, which made for a great experience for all who attended. Instructor Jonathan Politis MPA, NREMT-P, stated that you cannot get this kind of training in a classroom because there’s no way to recreate the feeling of actually working in a cold, treacherous environment during a rescue.

The event concluded with an opportunity for students to run through a full avalanche scenario, which included using a beacon to locate an avalanche victim, probing and then extracting the victim to a pre-made helipad in the snow. This was tasking and tested all the skills participants had learned over the last seven hours of training in the snow.

JEMS and EMS Today chose to host this rescue workshop off-site to give attendees an opportunity to get hands-on training in a true-to-life environment. Coming to Salt Lake City opened up the perfect opportunity host this type of event in the perfect environment for snow rescue. This is a practice we hope to continue at future EMS Today conferences. By taking advantage of the show’s location to provide different environmental and hands-on training experiences, we hope to make “I can’t believe I received credit for getting to do this” a frequent comment about your EMS Today learning experience.