WMAI Update 11/20/2020
Wilderness Medical Associates has been successfully running courses on a semi-regular basis since mid-June 2020. To date we have not experienced any notable misadventures related to COVID-19. With colder weather approaching in the Northern Hemisphere and dramatic upticks in COVID-19 cases, we want to again encourage mindfulness especially if you have signed up for an upcoming course.
The guidelines provided below in June of 2020 are still relevant. With the enhanced understanding of community spread, especially with asymptomatic/presymptomatic patients, 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 the 14 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.
Your instructor and/or sponsor will contact you if there are any changes in your upcoming course schedule or requirements mandated by local health authorities.
Remember that we do have Online Certification Extension courses available for those of you whose certifications are about to expire and who cannot attend a course.
WMAI Update 6/18/2020
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 but through their medical knowledge understand that they are 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.
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. I hope this overview provides a foundation for that communal awareness.
COVID-19: Online Certification Extension Courses have Launched! *updated 4/17/2020*
Wilderness Medical Associates International is excited to announce the launch of our online certification extension courses. These options are only available to currently certified WMAI WFR/WEMT, WAFA, and WFA graduates whose certification will expire while conventional, open-enrollment courses are being suspended and unavailable because of COVID-19. These courses are open at no charge. If your certification expired in March, you will automatically receive a one (1) month participation eligibility extension.
Enrollment is easy. Follow the appropriate link below to the Online Certification Extension (OCE) course page matching your current certification level and fill out the online registration form. Once we receive it and confirm your eligibility, we will send you an email with specific course participation login information.
After you successfully complete the course by passing the final exam, you will be able to access your PDF certification with an expiration date of six (6) months from the date you finished the OCE course.
This extension option will only be available until WMAI announces resumption of a sufficient number of conventional, open-enrollment recertification courses.
Canadian graduates should contact the Canadian office for further information () please include a copy of your current certification and if applicable the information about the course you were scheduled to attend.
If you decide not to participate in the OCE course and your certification expires, you will be required to attend a full course when conventional courses resume.
Update on Certification Extensions: 04/17/2020
Over the past several weeks I have maintained regular contact with leaders of some other wilderness medicine schools. Among a variety of topics, we specifically addressed our plans to extend WFR certifications that will expire for lack of available re-certification options following course cancellations necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic. WMA will make reasonable efforts to recognize certification extensions from other schools as proof for admission into future WMA recertification options.
If you have questions, please check with our office and/or your original certifier before signing up for a WMA recertification course.
You may find this article about COVID-19 and Wilderness Medicine Education Collaborative on the Wilderness Medical Society’s website interesting.
WMAI Certification Extension Update due to COVID-19 *updated 4/2/2020*
We have fielded a variety of inquiries from former WFR and WAFA graduates whose certification is expiring in March 2020 forward and their upcoming recertification course has been postponed due to COVID-19. We have considered a number of options, including a blanket extension. In the end, we believe that it will benefit you and reassure us to have you participate in what amounts to continuing education. We are currently working on a process whereby you will be able to extend your current WMA WFR or WAFA certification for 6 months as long as our courses remain postponed because of COVID-19 concerns. This proposed course will include reading and watching videos and then answering questions based on those activities. After successful completion, you will receive a PDF certification document with an updated expiration date. There will be no charge for this online certification extension.
We hope to begin this process in the coming days. If you expire at the end of March, we will extend your eligibility by one month.
WMA CANADA COURSE GRADUATES: WMA Canada has an Online Extension course specifically for graduates of WMA Canada WFR and WAFA courses needing certification extensions during the COVID-19 pandemic. For details, email , please include a copy of your current certification and if applicable the information about the course you were scheduled to attend.
As always, WMA Canada and US share the same curriculum and certifications with WMA affiliates worldwide.
WMA COVID-19 update as of 3/17/2020
Based on our best understanding of the spread of COVID-19 worldwide and its evolving impact on all walks of life, Wilderness Medical Associates US (WMA) began postponing all courses scheduled through the WMA office slated to begin between 2020-03-13 and 2020-04-30. We will continue to monitor the situation and periodically update these dates and courses as we see conditions change. It has been a difficult step but one we feel is justified by current conditions. As we are in new territory, we ask for your patience as we work to support our learners, graduates, sponsors, and instructors.
If you have questions about your canceled course, please contact the course sponsor first. If you need further guidance feel free to contact the WMA office.
WMA approved and certified courses are also scheduled and run by independent training companies owned by WMA instructors and licensed to use WMA curriculum. On a case-by-case basis and at their discretion some of these companies may still be running selected courses. If you are signed up for one of these courses and have not received an update, we strongly encourage you to contact the company or sponsor directly for the most current course status.
WMA is a strong company with incredibly intelligent and passionate instructors. We work with amazing sponsors who share our belief in the benefits of educating learners in practical medicine for remote and low-resource conditions. We will continue to work daily to assess the conditions as they evolve, striving to support our learners and sponsors through this challenging time in any way that we can.
We believe that through mutual support this resilient community will emerge even stronger.
Thank you all for your support and trust,
David E. Johnson MD, FACEP
President and Medical Director