By David Fleet
Brandon Twp.-From climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro to hiking the Golan Heights Trail to a short trek on the Appalachian Trail—township resident Jonathan Schechter’s rigorous outdoor excursions often transcend the mundane walk in the park.
Last February, the veteran outdoorsman and local paramedic spent a week in Big Sky Montana enhancing his wilderness medical skills.
Schechter completed a week long course in medical training through the National Conference of Wilderness and Travel Medicine. The extensive training is designed for physicians, but also includes medic firefighter and military medics along with nurses. A total of 36 completed the advanced level intensive, hands-on training certification.
Schechter, is now an Advanced Wilderness and Expedition Provider, the highest wilderness certification offered.
“This certification mixes my passion with nature and the medical skills often needed to not only help myself but aid others when there is no other assistance nearby,” said Schechter, an on-call firefighter/paramedic for Brandon Fire Department and contingent ER Paramedic for McLaren. “The training provides the know-how if someone is deep in the wilderness and they can’t get to a hospital. From a bone fracture to getting a dislocation back in place and all types of outdoor injuries—the advance course teaches techniques in the event you can’t get a victim back to an ER.”
The skills also apply for a mass disaster such as an earthquake or forest fire when there is no EMS system to transport a victim, he added.
“From venomous bites to lighting strikes the training is very in depth,” he said. “A lot of the time was spent on dislocations of fingers or hips—very common outdoor injury. Burns from a campfires and back country dental issues were also part of the training. This certification will increase the awareness of what you could encounter in the wilderness.”
While the hope is to never require wilderness medical skills, each summer Schechter is one of three individuals selected by the National Park Service for the month-long stint to run the lighthouse on South Manitou Island. The working maritime feature on northeastern Lake Michigan, about 7 miles off the coast of Leland is part of Leelanau County and the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Each year thousands of visitors make the trek to the island from the mainland.