SummaryThe Wilderness First Responder (WFR) course is the ideal medical training for outdoor educators, wilderness guides, members of the military, professional search and rescue teams, wildland firefighters, researchers, and those involved in disaster relief. The course provides essential training in wilderness medicine, leadership, and critical thinking for professionals and leaders working and traveling in outdoor, low-resource, and remote environments. The WFR curriculum is both comprehensive and practical and involves a minimum of 70 hours of instruction when taught in the United States (hours vary slightly in other countries). During the course, students learn the essential principles and skills required to assess and manage medical problems in isolated and extreme environments for days and weeks if necessary. To earn certification, students must meet the criteria set forth in our Functional Position Description as well as the minimum WFR performance and testing standards by the last day of course. Upon successful completion of the course, students will receive a Wilderness First Responder certification and certification of CPR taught to an equivalent health care provider level. Note: This course is recognized by the American Camp Association. (ACA) to meet specific ACA standards requiring certifications.
To meet a variety of student needs, we offer several different models of delivery for the WFR course.
7, 8, or 9-Day WFR Courses
Standard WFR courses are offered in person over the course of 7, 8, or 9 days. Registration into the course will require access to the internet, but all learning objectives are taught and accomplished while in class. These courses are ideal for students who prefer to be on-site with an instructor for the entire course. Please note: the 7-day course meets 10 hours each day, the 8-day course meets 8.5 hours each day, and the 9-day course typically meets 8.5 hours each day and allows for a day off in the middle of the course. Students must be at least 16 years old to participate. Students under 18 years of age require the written consent of a parent or guardian.
5-Day WFR Course (~30 hours offline pre-course work and 5 days in person)
This is an intensive version of our standard course and requires ~30 hours of self-directed pre-course review of a textbook and completion of a study guide prior to 45 hours of in-person learning over the course of five days. This course is ideal for those who are good at self-directed textbook learning or have prior medical experience or training. Conscientious preparation, studying, and time prior to the course is essential for success. Students are provided an electronic or physical textbook and downloadable study guide to review the curriculum and are expected to come to class ready to engage in drills and skill practice. We recommend that students register for the course four weeks prior to the course start date to allow time to 1) receive the textbook by mail (if applicable), 2) download the PDF Study Guide, and 3) adequately complete the 30+ hours of pre-course work. If the course start date is less than two weeks away, students will no longer be able to register for the course due to insufficient time to complete the pre-course work. Students are encouraged to register and begin pre-course review in advance of the required deadlines. All students must complete all pre-course work prior to arrival on course.
Hybrid WFR (~30 hours e-learning and 5 days in person)
The Hybrid WFR is the newest in our line-up of course offerings and includes an e-learning module and an in-person module. The e-learning module requires ~30 hours of online, computer-based learning that must be completed prior to participating in 45 hours of in-person learning over the course of five (5) days. The Hybrid WFR is suited for those new to wilderness medicine as well as those with some previous medical experience. The online learning modules are designed with multiple learning preferences in mind. Interactive videos, readings, self-practice assignments, quizzes, and case studies prepare students to apply the curriculum during in-person drills and scenarios. Students are expected to have a working knowledge of computers and access to high-speed Internet. Please review the minimum technology requirements for the hybrid WFR here before registering for the course. Students must register four to two weeks before the in-person course date to receive access to and adequately complete the required online course work. If your schedule permits, allowing 6 weeks for the e-learning module is considered ideal. Students are encouraged to register and begin online course work in advance of the required deadlines. All students must complete the online learning module in order to attend the in-person sessions.
Students in the 5-day and Hybrid WFR courses must be at least 18 years old to participate. Certain course sponsors may set a higher minimum age or establish other requirements consistent with their program. No previous medical training is required to take these courses.
The Wilderness First Responder curriculum is written in-house by a team of remote medical rescue researchers and professionals. Ongoing evidence-based research and review contributes to a unique and innovative approach to patient care in backcountry and austere settings. The curriculum is comprehensive, complete, and kept current on an annual basis. This is the most current and cutting-edge course of any first response medical training (urban or remote) in the world.
- The general principles of wilderness and rescue medicine with an emphasis on the prevention and identification of medical emergencies, appropriate technology, and risk management.
- Patient assessment and emergency care including CPR, basic life support, and the emergency treatment of anaphylaxis and asthma.
- Environmental medicine including altitude illness, hypothermia and heat illness, frostbite and cold injury, lightning, submersion, and environmental toxins.
- Backcountry medicine including the assessment and treatment of common medical problems.
- Musculoskeletal problems including unstable and stable injuries, overuse syndromes, and dislocations.
- Wound management including open fractures, lacerations, burns and blisters.
- Practical skills including splinting, bandaging, litter packaging and medical kit preparation.
- WMA wilderness protocols including wound cleaning and exploration, spine injury assessment, dislocation reduction, CPR in the remote setting, and anaphylaxis and asthma.
As part of Wilderness Medical Associates International’s commitment to your medical rescue training, our instructors and management will consult your group’s needs and teach according to your group’s backgrounds, environments, and experience. Simulations and hands-on activities will be realistic and relevant. Relevant adult education is incorporated directly into our curriculum to maximize learning of medical theory into practical skills.
Recertification can be earned at any time during the three years following your course. Options include the Bridge (WAFA to WFR) or the Open Recertification course. Click here for more information about recertification options.
- Wilderness and Rescue Medicine Textbook
- The Field Guide of Wilderness and Rescue Medicine
- Wilderness First Responder Class Notes
- SOAP Notebook
WMA instructors will supply a list of any general outdoor and classroom equipment that hosts are asked to provide for the course.
Successful completion with certification is based on 100% attendance, satisfactory performance on homework assignments and written quizzes, demonstrated proficiency with practical skills, and a successful grade on a final written exam. WMA is committed to making reasonable accommodations to any student with special needs.
Upon successful completion, students will receive a Wilderness First Responder certification and certification of CPR taught to an equivalent health care provider level. Certifications are valid for three years. The course is registered for 70 hours of continuing education credit through the CAPCE. Wilderness First Responder courses in Canada include a minimum of 80 hours of participation time. The availability of 5-day and Hybrid course models varies by country.
- High speed Internet Access
- A computer with:
- a PDF Reader
- Anti-Virus Software
- Internet Browser (latest version of Chrome, Firefox, or Edge). Note- the system is NOT compatible with Safari.