Northeast Conference Takes New Approach to Urban Disaster Training

As the medical community continues to find new ways to maintain disaster readiness, it's no longer just the Boy Scouts of America motto to always "Be Prepared." In that light, Cornell University took a unique approach in preparing its attendees at its latest medical conference: they went hiking.

Sponsored by Weill Cornell Medical School and Cornell Outdoor Education, Cornell University hosted more than 200 physicians and emergency medicine technicians at its Ithaca campus for the Northeast Wilderness Medical Conference from Sept. 26-28. At the event, attendees learned how to better cope with urban disasters by grappling with similar circumstances encountered in the wilderness.

Organizers saw the need for this approach when the emergency medical system was staggered in the Sept. 11, 2001, disaster in New York City and the 2005 Hurricane Katrina disaster in New Orleans. Without electricity, water, and communication, conventional care systems fell apart.

In response, the medical community overall is now embracing techniques and tactics derived from wilderness medicine training to provide emergency care in urban areas during disasters or pandemics.

Training courses included wilderness rescue training, Tyrolean traverse rescues, back-country preparation, and an incident command and management seminar.

For more information, visit http://nypemergency.org/wilderness/.

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