To Begin With

 1.Your job over the next four weeks is to lead eight girls into the New England wilderness and keep them fed. It would be ideal if they didn't get physically banged up at all, but they are a radically uncoordinated bunch so just do what you can. You have nothing to worry about, as you are well aware, because this is entirely within your range of ability, you led the same trip last year, and especially with your newly acquired medic skills you are more than a capable leader. We'll tell you right now- and we're not spoiling any surprises because in terms of the girls there are no surprises to be spoiled- that you'll encounter three nose bleeds, two "sprained" knees, one partial thickness burn (boiling water, dinner, surprising it wasn't worse) and the normal amount of blisters and scratches. On day three in the White Mountains it will rain for eight hours as you march up and down four miles of exposed ridge line at a dazzlingly slow pace, but you and Liz do an admirable job at staving off hypothermia. There are two overturned canoes and, during one unfortunately synchronised spell, about eight times the amount of menstrual cramps you were prepared to hear about at one time. Absolutely nothing to write home about. We will warn you however, and not to spoil any surprises here, that just five days into the trip you'll receive a terrible piece of news- it will quite literally land in your lap- and after that a trembling, unfathomable sadness will slouch its way into your amygdala and dominate every thing you do, down to the last detail. 
2. The trip begins with a four day canoe trip across lake Umbagog and down the Androscoggin River in New Hampshire. Everything is serene and pleasant and the girls are doe eyed and eager and brand new at everything. You and Liz, but mostly Liz, teach them the practicals of camping- how to prime a stove and light a blue flame without blowing themselves up, how to get a fire going in the evenings and properly stake out a tent. Your imparted wisdom is less pertinent but, you contend, may be very important one day. It is important to keep a severed digit cool by wrapping it in wet rag and storing it in a waterbottle, you tell them over dinner, holding up a half full Nalgene and shaking it. However, do not submerge the digit fully in water, it will decompose. They gamely absorb this and other information you dole out, and over dessert they beg to hear your adventure stories. They think you're funny, one of the most exciting people they've ever met. If the world were comprised of sixteen year olds, you think to yourself as you hold a marshmallow stick over the fire, you would be a very famous person, although you're faintly aware that the full ramifications of that statement are not entirely positive towards you.

The Wilder Responder

Only the third day of my Wilderness First Responder class, and already I've been kicked in the kidney by a horse, shattered my wrist mountain biking, split an artery and gone into shock at least four times. And I'm still able to perform an initial patient assessment on my cousin at the end of the day.

The class it ten days long, 80 hours total, provided by Remote Medical International. We take a lot of notes, but most of the time we're outside in the woods setting up bad ass scenarios with stage make up and learning how to bandage a sucking chest wound with a plastic glove. Every evening I arrive home staggering with new knowledge and exhausted.

Meeting midnight deadlines for original articles has been tough. I thought I'd be able to a little bit of outlining during class, but no way. In the first five minutes, I understood that I'd spend each moment in class in rapt attention. Every single thing those three instructors (all women, I'll add) tell us is vital. Absolutely no time is wasted.

These last few nights, I typed with one hand and held my eyes open with the other. Once I finally fall asleep around 1am, I'm pretty damn proud of myself. Tomorrow after a full 8-5:45 day, we're getting a break for dinner and then returning for our first night simulation. This is the best class I've ever taken, the most exciting things I've ever learned, and I hope I never have to use any of it.