Thinking about taking an outdoor education, emergency response, or backcountry accident prevention course? Women’s Adventure magazine knows the easiest way to get certified—and save lives.
I walked into camp and dropped my pack. I helped my clients zip up parkas and open power bars. And then I began to shovel snow.
I leveled tent platforms, erected tents, and got my clients out of the cold. I dug a kitchen, started melting water (from snow), and unburied the food cache I hid the day before. Finally, I surrounded the entire camp with a wall made from snow bricks. Three hours after arriving in camp, the work was done. I looked up, panting. I stood at the 14,000-foot camp on Mount McKinley, the tallest peak in North America. There are no words for that feeling.
Many of my friends have no interest in mountaineering or any other kind of outdoor recreation. Yet everyone who spends time outside understands why it’s so special. It’s addicting and refreshing. There is something so real about considering little more than food, water, and shelter.
I spent four years working outside. Summers were spent as a mountaineering guide in Washington and Alaska. Winters were spent ski patrolling in Vermont. I was living the dream. Everyday, I was doing what most people did for vacation. And I was getting paid.
Accident Prevention and Response
That was my life. And most of you would envy it, I know. But for the past few months, I’ve spent six days a week in front of a computer for several hours a day.
Despite the change of pace, I look forward to working on this side project. It’s called CertHero.org, and is a website to help people find outdoor education and certification courses. Let me explain why I’m so excited, and why (after four years of working outside) I’m OK sitting behind a computer screen.
While I agree there are amazing things about spending time outside, it can also be dangerous. When I was working as a guide and patroller, I saw this firsthand. I was on several search and rescue missions for climbers who ultimately died. And I’ve responded to dozens of serious medical incidents.
I don’t mean to be gruesome: I truly think risk is one of the most awesome things about being outside. Traveling outside feels authentic, because there are not handrails, and the consequences are real.
Though I did see freak accidents, I mostly saw incidents come from poor planning and lack of training. I saw incidents that could have been avoided.
But I also showed up, as part of search and rescue team, to several accidents and found that someone was already giving aid. In some cases, early medical attention was critical. It was this realization that got me working on CertHero.org with my good friend Sam Aarons.
We truly believe that the more people are certified and educated, the better we’ll all be—in the wilderness, at ski resorts, and even in the front country.
Never taken an outdoor course? If you’re a recreational outdoorswomen, I recommend looking into them. They prepare you for medical emergencies or avalanches, or teach more general skills (depending on the course). Beyond that, outdoor courses are extremely fun. Most medical courses, for example, have both lecture and scenario portions of class. Scenarios are usually outside, complete with fake injuries and fake blood.
CertHero is unique in that it caters to those who haven’t taken courses before. We solve a specific problem that I’ve faced: Signing up for medical and outdoor certifications is painful and intimidating. There is too much information on some sites and not enough on others. Comparing courses is difficult. And finding a convenient date and location can take hours.
The name “CertHero” comes from the fact that taking courses like this could make you a hero. Seriously. Certifications can give you the power to tell the future (predict avalanches) and to use x-ray vision (to find people buried in avalanches). They can give you the power to save lives (no exaggeration at all). Basic medical skills can save friends, family, and strangers in the front and backcountry.
Do I think everyone needs to be certified? Maybe not. But, like I said, the more people get certified, the better off we’ll all be. That’s the sentiment behind CertHero. And that’s why we’re making it easier than ever to get certified. Check it out.
Logan Randolph spent the last four summers guiding in the mountains Alaska and Washington and spent the last four winters ski patrolling in Vermont. He saw tons of people injured in preventable accidents. “I saw people die because of a lack of training,” he says. “I also saw people survive because bystanders were trained in first aid.” He’s working on a project to help people get certified in outdoor skills and first aid. CertHero.org