Wilderness EMT Training Programs and Requirements

Wilderness EMTs are trained to provide medical care and assistance in emergency situations without access to standard hospital tools and devices. Training is typically very active, involving scenario practice and mock rescues, in addition to classroom education.

Training Requirements and Recommendations

Wilderness EMT training targets both professional emergency medical responders and outdoor enthusiasts who enjoy recreational activities in remote locations. Professional wilderness EMTs must complete a training program that covers emergency medical response in remote locations. These programs generally certify the graduate at the Basic EMT (EMT-B) level in addition to the wilderness EMT certification, and require a current basic life support and CPR certification.

Individuals may also seek wilderness EMT training to support outdoor hobbies such as skiing, hiking, rock climbing or rafting. More limited training programs for this audience teach wilderness first aid and basic life support.

Formal Education

Formal training in wilderness medicine is available for students without emergency medical experience and those who are already certified EMTs. Students entering the EMT profession may enroll in an EMT + W course through an accredited agency, which prepares graduates to enter the workforce as an entry-level EMT with additional wilderness certification. Currently certified emergency medical technicians may complete a shorter program to attain wilderness certification.

Certificate in Wilderness Search and Rescue Medicine

Wilderness EMT (WEMT) training consists of a 4-week long program, ranging from 170 to 185 hours and culminating in an exam. Skills covered in the program include trauma assessment and treatment, airway obstruction, spine management, toxins and allergic reactions, pharmacology, emergency childbirth, and treatment for bone injuries.

Upgrade Training

This 5-day course focuses upon remote medicine techniques and wilderness protocols, preparing practicing emergency medical technicians to administer remote medicine without system support. Lectures, practical training and rescue simulations make up the program. Successful completion leads to an upgrade from an EMT-B to a W-EMT certification.

Licenses and Certifications

State requirements differ, but graduates of wilderness EMT courses are normally certified for 2-3 years. Continuing education credits are required in order to recertify. Standard EMT certification at the national and state levels may be maintained separately.

Workshops and Seminars

The Wilderness Medical Society (WMS) is a professional organization that offers numerous conferences throughout the United States for its members. Its educational workshops and seminars are accredited to provide continuing education hours that apply to wilderness EMT recertification requirements. Current treatment updates and training modules are presented by experienced wilderness medical professionals.

Additional Professional Development

Wilderness emergency medical technicians may take the Advanced Wilderness Life Support (AWLS) course for additional training or to fulfill continuing education requirements. Career achievement is recognized by the WMS through completion of extensive educational activities and for working experiences as a Fellow in the Academy of Wilderness Medicine. Members of the organization earn credits towards this goal according to specified guidelines.

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