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Professor Tames Disaster Survival With Wilderness First Aid Course

Posted Oct. 11, 2010

One of the most important aspects of wilderness and disaster survival, according to Dr. Jeffrey Pellegrino, is the ability to think logically and carefully in an emergency. One may know all the details and steps on how to dress a wound or perform CPR, but often times the individual will become shocked by the intensity of the situation and forget to take meaningful action.

profiles jeffery p redcross 2
The course addressed emergencies in all seasons.

Pellegrino, the assistant director of the Faculty Professional Development Center here at Kent State University, is not a man who forgets to take action. With an impressive resume, including working nationally with the Boy Scouts of America, Ohio Emergency Medical Services and the American Red Cross, Pellegrino has utilized both his love of adventure and knowledge in education to help the American Red Cross develop their Wilderness and Remote First Aid Program.

The course is based on the guidelines Pellegrino co-authored, as well as the books he wrote for the series. Most importantly, though, the course emphasizes the hands-on, practical experience.

"It's not about the techniques of first aid, but about how you think in an emergency," says Pellegrino. Thus, the course involves small group exercises where the participants role-play emergency situations. The scenarios become more and more intense as the course progresses, from recognizing minor emergencies to preventing them from becoming life-threatening.

Wilderness survival and remote first aid are not just skills needed in North America, however. In fact, Pellegrino recently worked with the Japanese Medical Society to help them allocate these first aid protocol and educational strategies in rural Japan.

Even the Pentagon has taken interest in his program, and they are picking it up "so every military base will theoretically have the program available" for base personnel and dependents, says Pellegrino.

The program emphasizes "feeling competent and confident", Pellegrino adds skills that are not only beneficial in the wilderness, but also in everyday life. Even a student or professor can find the course useful, as the strategies engage both college-aged students and professionals in developing critical thinking skills at critical times.

In his everyday life, Pellegrino works diligently both on and off campus to help enhance the Kent State experience and educate the community. Pellegrino believes that the Kent State University Faculty Professional Development Center has made tremendous strides in the name of education.

"What we do here really works", he says proudly.

For more information about the Wilderness and Remote First Aid Program, visit the American Red Cross of Summit and Portage Counties website at

For more information about the Faculty Professional Development Center, visit its website.

By Erin Dwinnells