Miles McDonough stood in front of a group of Forest Service workers and asked for a volunteer.
A moment late, Julien Inclan stepped forward to volunteer and had his arm doused in a healthy quantity of fake blood. The watching students groaned a bit in sympathy.
"I did warn you," McDonough said, "that volunteering gets messier as the day goes on."
McDonough is an instructor for Seattle-based Remote Medical International, which teaches people the skills to deal with medical emergencies in the backcountry.
McDonough likes adventures. He's a climber and backcountry skier who spends a lot of time in wild, remote places. Several years back, after a few close calls, he decided he needed to take one for the team and enroll in a wilderness first aid course.
"The course really resonated with me," he said. In fact, it resonated so much that he soon took an EMT course. Then he joined Everett Mountain Rescue and the Snohomish County Helicopter Rescue Team. He still works with those groups, in addition to teaching for Remote Medical International.
Some of the RMI students are simply day hikers, people who want to feel prepared for outdoor recreation. But RMI also teaches industry professionals such as youth group leaders, wilderness guides and physicians traveling to remote areas, and medical staff that work in hard-to-reach areas.
RMI is based in Seattle and offers a number of courses all over the world, with a high volume in the Seattle and Bellingham area.
The skill set is different than first aid training for urban areas. If you break your arm in the city, for instance, 911 will likely get you help within minutes. If you break your arm while 20 miles from the nearest road, things are quite different.
The classes really teaches people how to think. Students learn how to do a thorough patient assessment and how to know what problems must be treated immediately, and what can wait.
McDonough says the course teaches people the skills that allow them to identify a life-threatening condition or injury with a very limited skill set. It also shows them how to stabilize that person while additional help is coming in.