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Arctic Blast 2001

Education Curriculum & Lesson Plans

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"Weekly Topic & News" is posted here every Monday by 7 a.m. CST

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"The Weekly Topic and News" merges the expedition, educational goals, and the needs of teachers. It is the most important component of your online classroom expedition.

Start each week with an in-depth look at this page.

The topic of the week is emphasized with clearly presented, facts and information supplementing each unit of the curriculum package.

Information is also provided to help make real world connections, investigate personal values and discuss current issues.

Completing the circle, the weekly topic will also be highlighted from the Arctic Blast explorers.

Using the sights, sounds, and wilderness perspectives of the arctic facilitate meaningful and energized classes.

The Weekly Topic and News integrates the nationally accredited, K through 12, Nunavut curriculum package and the weekly reports from the expedition. This is where the adventure of collaborative learning really begins.

WEEK 10:
First Aid

Every first aid and survival situation requires the exact same procedures. A plane crash, a paper cut, a broken arm... Knowing and understanding how to properly treat an injury means following the same basic steps regardless of the situation. However, before treatment properly assessing a patient is critical. Patient assessment is the key to all medical care. Again, before beginning any type of first aid, you need to evaluate your patient’s condition, determine what is or may be wrong, and implement an appropriate treatment plan with the equipment available. Then, in a back country situation, you need to make a judgment about whether the person can continue on the trip or whether he or she needs to be evacuated and receive other medical care. Medical professionals always recommend being conservative while assuming that the worst has happened to the patient.

The patient assessment system (PAS) was designed to provide a comprehensive system to evaluate a patient’s condition. Patient assessment is a complex skill that can be done well only with practice. Although the general principles of patient assessment are identical, they must be adapted to each situation.

First, you will need to assess the scene. The safety of the rescuer must come first at all times. Before approaching a patient, make sure that the scene is safe. Taking unnecessary risks could mean the potential for more injuries. It is important to avoid anything that might bring you harm while trying to deliver first aid - that includes the patient.

Once the situation deemed safe, it is OK to approach the victim. Remember, if there is any reason why the area could be considered dangerous, you should not try to treat the patient. Here are a few key points to note

Make sure that no one else is any danger.

Account for all victims.

If the patient is in immanent danger (for example, being on thin ice), you may need to move the person to another location before starting your assessment. Take proper precautions to maintain your safety at the scene, including wearing latex gloves (to protect the first aid giver from harmful diseases the patient might have).

Look for clues to the cause of injury.

The next step is the primary assessment. The goal of the Primary (or Initial) Assessment is to identify any potential life-threatening situations that must be dealt with immediately. The Primary Assessment is prioritized and should be performed in the following order: A (Airway), B (Breathing), C (Circulation), D (Disability). If you find any problem in the Primary Assessment, stop the assessment and treat the patient immediately. The Primary Assessment may last only a few seconds if the patient is alert, walking around, and speaking to you, or if the patient is experiencing a serious “A, B, or C” problem, several minutes. Now, consider this arctic survival scenario. You have been traveling across the pack ice all day long. You and your partner are each mushing a team of dogs. You have been separated for most of the day. Upon catching up to your team mate, he collapses next to his sled. What do you do?

Again, in any medical situation the first step should be to assess the scene. Is your partner in an area of safe ice? Are there any other dangers. If it is safe, then you may approach your partner. As you walk up, it is also important to get a general impression for what might have happened. Next, begin your primary assessment. You find your partner huddled next to his sled and talking to himself in a short, mixed up words. You find that your partner is breathing but in short irregular breaths. You do not find any cuts or bruises, however, his skin is very pale. He seems disoriented.

In this situation, the most likely diagnosis is hypothermia. Hypothermia is, by definition, a drop in the body's core temperature. Any drop below a body temperature of 98.6 is considered the onset of hypothermia. Hypothermia is brought on by exposure to conditions that cause the body to loose heat faster than it can generate it. Cold, wind, and water are the three major contributing factors of hypothermia. A cold environment forces the body to work harder to maintain it's temperature. Cold air, water, and snow all draw heat from the body. Wind causes heat loss due to convection. This effect is known as the wind chill. Water, whether on the skin or on the clothes, greatly increases conventional heat loss and evaporative heat loss. A combination of water and wind can provide deadly heat loss due to evaporation and convection.

The best thing to do for a hypothermia patient is to replace any wet clothing with warm dry clothing and a hat. In this situation out on the pack ice, it might be important to set up a tent for additional shelter. If your partner is able to swallow without danger, he should drink warm (not hot) sugary fluids. If possible, warm objects such as water bottles, should be placed next to his body.

Above all wilderness travelers should use common sense, conditioning and acclimatization, proper equipment, communication, appropriate trip plans, medicine and the proper knowledge, adequate nutrition, and keeping well hydrated are all part of completing a successful expedition. If something does go wrong, keeping calm is very important. Using the patient assessment is the most important way to determine what has happened to a victim as well as insuring the safety of the rescuer.

For more information about first aid check out these websites.
Health Teacher Lesson Plans
Adventure Network - First Aid and Safety

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