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NOAA OR&R Hosts “Cool” Arctic Survival Training

DECEMBER 23, 2019 — Demonstrating NOAA’s commitment toward enhanced Arctic safety preparedness, select Office of Response & Restoration (OR&R) members participated in four days of intense Arctic Survival Training at the Seattle NOAA Western Regional Center Dec 10-13, 2019.

A group of people in the water, huddling together.
A group huddles together for warmth during a cold water immersion exercise. Image credit: NOAA.

Learn to Return Training Systems, Inc. (LTR) was contracted to prepare personnel to manage the unexpected in remote locations where medical assistance or transport could be delayed. Training was largely hands-on and students learned essential medical concepts and basic life support skills. The course was led by LTR’s founder, Brian Horner, who has dedicated his life to instructional programs designed to save lives. His credibility, humility and life experiences captivated students and illustrated the gravity of the course content. Training consisted of delayed care First-aid, wilderness medicine, wildlife awareness, cold water and land based survival concepts. A truly dynamic learning experience, students were provided guidance on how to manage emergencies in the field then given “micro-scenarios” to work through. Students practiced predatory defense/deterrent techniques for wildlife encounters, were expected to fashion improvised survival clothing, build a shelter, make a fire, practice emergency signaling and were even given pig’s legs to render First-aid on. To fully impart the physiological effects of exposure to cold water, students fully immersed themselves in Lake Washington (water temp 48° F) wearing just their street clothes and a life jacket. Participants were in the water for a short time before exiting and transitioning into immersion suits (made more difficult due to muscle contraction from the cold water). Students then practiced vessel egress from height, survival swimming techniques, rescue throw bag usage, and launching and boarding of a life raft.

While participants received certifications in American Red Cross CPR and First-aid, the greatest value by far was the situational awareness, human element and dose of reality provided by LTR instructors.

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Last updated Sunday, January 12, 2020 10:51am PST