Wilderness Medicine Testimonials

From: Steven G. Schram DC, LAc., Diplomate in Acupuncture ( NCCAOM ).

“I recently took Susan’s Wilderness First Responder Course and give my highest recommendation to anyone interested in the practical application of Wilderness Medicine. I was formally trained as a United States Air Force Emergency Escape from Aircraft and Parachute Instructor. I served three additional enlistments and was formally trained at a Army Medical Corpsman working as a Air Rescue Medic, Armored Infantry Medic and with the 20th Special Forces. I also received a appointment as a Associate Professor at the University of Western States serving as a Attending Physician and Sports Medicine Supervisor. I have come to recognize those instructors who excel at their profession and Susan Purvis is one them.”

From: Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)

“The seriousness and importance of this class to our organization is critical, the tone was set for an interesting week the very first night. Because of the work we do, we sought out this type of class. I was elated and just want everyone to realize what assents you have in both Jeff and Susan. The location could not have been better for this type of instruction. The outdoors setting and altitude added to the learning experience. I can not express our gratitude strongly enough for the real worked experience.”

—Joe Zuiches,  Experienced Squaw Valley Ski Patroller and Mountain Guide


Hey Sue,

Just wanted to thank you for a great wilderness first responder (WFR) class. It paid dividends the very next day for me. Yesterday, at Squaw Valley, I was dispatched to a 34-year-old male with no sensation in his legs. I got on scene, smoked a cigarette (your way of telling me to take a few deep breaths) and covered all the Patient Assessment System (PAS) triangles. Even took a pulse and respirations. Patient had Fractured Cervical spine #6, #7 and Lumbar spine #1. Got many compliments from patrol colleagues that this rescue was the smoothest incident that any of the other patrollers had been on. Smoking a cigarette and having everything organized in my head helped tremendously.  I’ve taken every first aid course under the sun but non of them compare to yours.

Thanks again, I’ll be looking into an instructor course too in the future.

*** CBO expresses sincere appreciation for Joe’s note. Later that year, Joe was killed in a terrible ski patrol accident at Squaw. Joe, you’re in our hearts. We will continue to reach out to your beautiful wife and young son. Namaste, Sue Purvis


Hi Sue,

At the moment, I’m really tired, so I’ll keep this one short. My rescue was pretty intense to say the least. I was the one that was most injured – but I had the most experience in this sort of stuff. As it turned out, I was sort of the “trauma team leader” for my own rescue!!! It was very scary at times, because I was self diagnosing my own injuries, and as it turned out, I was correct on almost all of it. I knew by the pain that I had broken several ribs, and after a while, when I would talk to the rescuers, the words would cackle as they came out. I knew that my lung had been punctured, and was filling up with fluid and air. My abdomen was also very hard and distended – I went from a fit guy, to a guy with a big ole’ belly in almost no time!! Don’t know if you know the extent of my injuries, but here’s a brief overview – I broke almost all of my ribs on my right side. I broke my sternum. I broke 3 ribs on my left side. I had a burst fracture of my L1, and fractures of my T5 and T7. It took 7 hours of surgery and 8 screws to put back together. I ended up puncturing BOTH lungs, which led to double pneumonia a week later. They took a bone graph from my hip to help the vertebra on my L1. I had a few litter scrapes, but that’s the majority of it. From the time of the crash, to the time I made it to the hospital in New Zealand was almost 16 hours. Suffice it to say, I surprised a few doctors just by surviving!!

—Steve O., Antarctica Helicopter Crash, former two-time Wilderness First Responder (WFR) student.


History, Longevity, Loyalt
Canoeing expedition camp

Susan Purvis was first recommended to our organization, Camp Kooch-i-ching, a canoeing expedition camp located in northern Minnesota (95th year) by a former staff member who took her course in 2009 in Glacier National Park, Montana.

Susan’s adaptability, willingness to learn local geography and all-around ease of personality made her a great fit. While the classroom time was necessary, Susan’s drive took the guides outside where learning was most relevant. Recognizing the importance of the core of class, staff members were forced to learn in a wilderness setting with limited resources.  Practical medical scenarios were executed on remote islands were the only access is via canoe.

As our staff learned to adapt to different situation, it gave me as the director great faith in our guides while leading trips.  Sue ended up being our instructor for nearly 10 years and certainly part of the Camp Kooch-i-ching family.

—JR Verkamp, Director


Avalanche Class Testimonials

This is the most memorable experience I’ve ever had on two planks. I left this class not wanting it to end. It was inspiring, motivating, and we learned so much over the three days. Ken and Sue were phenomenal. Even now, as I type this two days later, I’m getting chills thinking about our three days out in the Yurt. Other than the fact that we all could have used a burger or two, I think the entire group wanted a few more days to take it all in. We arrived not knowing anyone and by the end of the three days, we were all a tight-knit group. Everyone pulled their weight, we all were eager to learn and more importantly, we all looked out for each other. It’s so hard to put into words the impact this class has had on me and I imagine the rest of the group as well. Jay, the owner of Great Northern Powder Guides is one of the nicest, down to earth guys I’ve ever met. The last day he took each of our groups up for our own cat ride and while we knew the purpose of the class wasn’t to “shred the gnar” as Sue and Ken would say, we definitely got to ski the gnar on the last day.  If anyone has any doubts about taking this class, dismiss them and sign up. This was a life changing experience for me and I am committed to being a lifelong learner. This is just the beginning and I can’t thank you enough for this experience. I can’t speak highly enough of Ken and Sue. They were full of information, kept us all safe and provided us with the building blocks to experiencing the beauty of the backcountry safely. Thank you so much.

Nic R.


Just a little something as a thanks for an amazing 3 days. Your knowledge was presented in a way that was interesting & easy to relate to. We both find ourselves reading the daily avalanche report and not only understanding it but discussing it!! Thanks again and we look forward to doing more education with you and keeping in touch.

Al & Mindy M.

The highlight of my winter was attending 3 day AIARE Avalanche 1 course led by Sue Purvis of CBO. Sues’ years of accumulative expertise combined with that of  Kenny Gaschs’ was extraordinary! What an amazing opportunity it was to learn from such expertise and passion for staying alive in the Mts!

Initially, we were all strangers of varying abilities and ages but from the “Get
Go”, even before we boarded the ski cat that would take us up to the yurt perched high in the Whitefish Mountain Range, Sue and Kenny had us melded into a team. Each  of us  chose a “ buddy” to look out for. It set the tone of “ looking out for one another first!” Aside from all of the knowledge of avalanche awareness on and off the snow, it was the collaborative passion for skiing in the backcountry and a genuine care for each other’s safety, that impressed me most!
I would highly encourage anyone, no matter how much they “think” they know about snow safety in the back country, to take this course; it could be literally, life saving!
Jessie Opel
Nordic Instructor
Whitefish, MT

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