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. Different levels of certification are available for those who choose this career path.

Essential Information

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. To enroll in a wilderness EMT training program one must be at least 18 years old and pass a tuberculosis (TB) test.

Wilderness Search and Rescue Medicine Certificate

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. Some common course topics in these programs include:

  • Chest trauma
  • Head injuries
  • Diabetes
  • North American bites and stings
  • Long term patient care

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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. Some course topics might include:

  • Logistics and introduction
  • Pain management
  • SAR exercise
  • Medical kits and medications
  • Soft tissue injury

Continuing Education

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.

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.

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.

A few different levels of certification are available to those wishing to become a wilderness EMT. Once certification is obtained, it must be maintained through continued training and education every 2 to 3 years.

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