Wilderness Medical Associates has been successfully running courses since mid-June 2020. To date, we have not experienced any notable misadventures related to COVID-19. While our course volume has increased over the last several months, local and state restrictions frequently restrict the size of our courses. Therefore, we are still limited in the number of students we can serve. As a result, we still have two avenues through which WMAI students can recertify: to take an in-person recertification course or equivalent, or to do an online course extension. If you decide not to participate in either option, and your certification expires, you will be required to attend a full WFR course to once again achieve that level of certification.
To register for an in-person course, please view our recertification page. If interested, examples of some commonly practiced Covid-specific course adaptations are provided below. Adaptations provided on your specific course may vary. Once registered for a course, any changes to your course schedule or specific requirements due to Covid will be provided by your instructor and/or sponsor.
Please note: Our online certification modules will only be available until we are able to offer sufficient in-person recertification opportunities to meet demand. We will strive to give a one-month notification prior to the cancellation of these courses.
Over the past several months, Wilderness Medical Associates International (WMAI) has been creating guidelines to help inform sponsors in methods to help decrease the risk of running courses in alignment with state and local mandates. For learners who are new to a WMAI course, these changes will probably feel seamless and the new procedures will be the norm. WMAI certification graduates will be cognizant of course changes and recognize them as clear extensions of “scene safety” and “proper PPE use”. Whichever category you are in, we want to share some information on this topic.
Any learner who is experiencing or has in the 14 days prior to the first day of their course experienced any COVID-19 symptoms as defined by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control), including but not exclusively: fever, shortness of breath, loss of smell or taste, or any flu symptoms should not attend a course. Those who have, in the 14 days prior to course, had contact with a COVID-19 positive or suspected positive person or received instruction from a public health authority to self-observe, self-isolate, or self-quarantine should also not travel to the training site.
For those attending a course, we would like to remind you of the importance of your actions prior to arriving on course. As much as possible, practice social distancing, mask wearing, and proper hygiene during the14 days preceding your start date, including your travel to the course. None of these guarantee absolute protection but ignoring any or all could notably increase your risk of contracting COVID-19.
All learners will be medically screened by their instructor on the first morning of course prior to being allowed into the training site and daily during the course. These screenings will include health and contact questions as well as temperature checks. Sponsors are expected to follow all federal, state, and local laws and ordinances regarding COVID-19 positive or suspected positive cases. If a learner screens presumptive positive for COVID-19 they will be quarantined until they leave the training site. The sponsor shall work with local health authorities and follow their guidance on testing and tracking for a potential exposure site. The learner should work with the sponsor through their established policies regarding placement in a future course with them or other options that may be available from the sponsor for someone unable to complete their course due to COVID-19. WMAI is not responsible for expenses related to or arising from a positive diagnosis prior to or on a course.
Sponsors shall follow CDC protocols for frequent cleaning of commonly touched surfaces with an appropriate cleaner. Where possible, they will also provide hand-washing stations both inside and outside with soap and clean running water, as well as hand sanitizer for times when hand washing is not immediately possible. Other topics such as individual meals in lieu of family style and private sleeping quarters instead of bunkhouses or multi-person tents have also been highlighted.
Course participant numbers have been reduced and classrooms will be set up to physically distance all Individuals. The use of serviceable face masks that cover the nose and mouth from arrival on site or first contact with anyone related to the training site until departure will be enforced to match current governing guidelines in place at the time of the course. Additionally, use of protective eyewear and gloves will be required during hands on drills and patient assessments. Refusal or repeated failure to comply with health safety procedures may lead to dismissal from course with no tuition refund.
CDC defined COVID-19 Higher Risk Individuals should consult with their primary care provider and make a thorough assessment of all current factors to determine if they should travel to and attend a WMAI medical course or postpone to a future course. These risk factors include age and comorbidities like high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, conditions that compromise the immune system, and obesity.
Our intention remains to provide meaningful training in wilderness medicine. The current COVID‐19 pandemic has made this more difficult, but not impossible. In order to minimize risk, it is important that there be a cooperative understanding among WMA, sponsors, instructors, and learners. We hope this overview provides a foundation for that communal awareness.