Wilderness First Responder Course and Class Descriptions

Successful completion of a wilderness first responder (WFR) course prepares individuals to make medical decisions in wilderness areas. Read on to explore a few sample courses in this field.

Essential Information

The wilderness first responder (WFR) course is essential for anyone who spends significant amounts of time in remote areas. Two common options available include the basic WFR course and a wilderness first aid course. In addition to receiving wilderness emergency training, students may also choose to pursue EMT-Basic certification through a combined EMT and WFR program, which requires CPR certification as a prerequisite.

All WFR courses incorporate practical hands-on training through mock rescues and scenarios, and students may earn college credit for their training. Individuals completing a wilderness first aid course can certify as providers of wilderness first aid and CPR, while those completing a basic WFR course can get WFR licensure.

Common concepts taught in wilderness first responder courses include:

  • Wilderness wound management
  • Search & rescue
  • Communicable disease
  • Common wilderness medical problems
  • Altitude illness
  • Shock
  • Head injuries

List of Wilderness First Responder Courses

Wilderness First Responder Course

The WFR course provides students with the hands-on skills and practical knowledge necessary for medical decision-making and critical evacuation in wilderness and remote locations. Evacuation can take longer in more remote locations, so focus is generally placed on caring for wounds on a long-term basis and treating injuries for ambulation and evacuation.

The WFR class is generally 80 hours in length and includes instruction in fracture realignments and dislocations, frostbite, heatstroke, cardiac and respiratory emergencies, and bites and stings. Upon completion of the WFR class, students take written and practical examinations to become licensed WFRs. WFR certification is valid for three years, after which a 2- or 3-day recertification refresher course is required.

Wilderness First Responder - EMT Course

The Wilderness First Responder - Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) class is approximately 200 hours in length and is the most advanced wilderness emergency medicine credential offered today. The WFR - EMT course is open to current EMTs who wish to become certified as Wilderness EMTs or to those who wish to become a Wilderness First Responder EMT-Basic. To enroll, students must have a current CPR card and an up-to-date TB test.

Successful completion of both the WFR and EMT practical and written exams certifies the student with the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians-Basic (NREMT-B) and as a WFR. This course combines urban medical practices with wilderness medicine and generally includes experiences riding in an ambulance and life-saving scenarios in staged locations.

Wilderness First Aid

The wilderness first aid course is generally a 16- to 20-hour class that covers the basic first aid skills for weekend or day trips to wilderness locations. Some programs offer a trip into wilderness locations to practice hands-on skills and techniques learned in the classroom. Critical assessment and treatment skills are explored, and students receive training in wilderness CPR. Passing written and practical tests, students will be certified Wilderness First Aid and CPR providers. WFRs can use this course for complete recertification, and Wilderness EMTs can recertify the wilderness portion of their credential through this course.

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