An Ultimate Guide About Wilderness First Aid


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Introduction:

Wilderness first aid (WFA) is the practice of providing first aid and emergency medical assistance to people who are injured or become ill while in a wilderness environment, or during an outdoor activity. Wilderness first responders (WFRs) are professionals who have been specifically trained to provide this type of care.

Backpackers:

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Backpackers are another group that may need to provide first aid in a wilderness setting. Backpackers are people who hike into or cross country through wilderness areas for days or weeks at a time. They typically carry all their supplies with them, including food, cooking equipment, and first aid supplies.

Other organizations include river rafters, mountain climbers, cavers, skiers/snowboarders (backcountry), off-road vehicle users (ATV’s), high-angle rescue workers, search & rescue teams, and others who bring tools of the trade into wilderness areas where access by conventional means is difficult or impossible.

Survival Games:

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Survival Games are another outdoor activity that has become popular recently. As you can imagine there are quite a few injuries that happen as a result of playing these games. Many of those injuries are minor but could be serious depending on the circumstances.

Wilderness first responders:

Wilderness first responders are usually found in team-based structures, with one or more medically trained members providing medical assistance to other teammates. They may also operate within the structure of an outdoor adventure company, or assist local emergency response teams during large-scale emergencies. Such wilderness first responders are typically employed by various governmental agencies, such as fire departments and national parks services, universities, mountaineering clubs, commercial outdoor tour operators, non-profit organizations including search and rescue clubs, national ski patrol groups, Mennonite Voluntary Service units, Boy Scouts groups, Red Cross chapters, and others.

Special programs:

In the United States, National Ski Patrol members are often considered as “experts” in wilderness first aid. They have a special program called Wilderness Advanced Life Support (WALS). Other countries have their programs, such as the Mountain Leader Emergency Response Training Scheme in Britain or Canada’s Wilderness First Responder course. Many other first responders and other outdoor organizations also provide courses leading to certification as a WFR, including the American College of Sports Medicine and its affiliated organizations, National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS), Outward Bound USA, Appalachian Search, and Rescue Team (AUSART), Wilderness Medical Associates International (WMIA) and others.

WFA certification courses:

Wilderness first responder courses typically last about 40 hours over 8–12 days. The curricula of these courses are designed to be relevant across international borders. They should not place students at increased risk should they happen to find themselves outside their home country.

The National Association for Search and Rescue (NASAR) recommends that all SAR personnel hold one of the following certifications before responding to a call. Additionally, NASAR suggests that members have the following training.

There are several WFA certification courses available both online and in-person around the world. The American College of Sports Medicine offers two courses that meet NOLS’ requirements for Wilderness First Responder certification. These programs are outlined below along with other reputable organizations who provide similar coursework to help anyone achieve Wilderness First Responder level skills.

Wilderness Medical Society (WMS):

The Wilderness Medical Society (WMS) is a nonprofit global medical organization dedicated to the advancement of wilderness medicine, education, and research around the world. One of its many activities is operating a certification program for those who think they might be prepared to deliver first aid in remote areas.

NOLS courses provide training and experience by combining classroom lectures and small group discussions with extended field applications. The program’s curricula are designed not only for students interested in learning personal skills but also for instructors desiring to teach others. Several other schools offer similar instructional programs in conjunction with their outdoor courses or trips where students can earn certification as WWRs upon successful completion of the course.

The Mountain Leader training scheme is a British and Irish qualification for those who intend to lead or assist in the delivery of instruction and guiding activities, particularly at a high level on mountains, but also in other outdoor locations. This standard is recognized internationally by national mountaineering bodies. The requirement for recognition of this standard outside of the British Isles varies from country to country.

Himalayan Experience qualifications:

Recognition of Himalayan Experience qualifications is governed by the Nepalese government which has designated that only AMGA-affiliated organizations be allowed to deliver their instructional programs. This means that any instruction offered by locally accredited groups under the banner of Himex must be done through an AMGA-affiliated organization. As a result, students wishing to attend Himex courses would need to do so via one of the following AMGA-certified outfits.

Conclusion:

Wilderness first aid is an important skill to have whether you are a hiker, camper, mountaineer, or just someone who likes spending time outdoors. The National Association for Search and Rescue recommends that all SAR personnel hold one of the following certifications before responding to a call. Additionally, NASAR suggests that members have the following training. There are several WFA certification courses available both online and in-person around the world. The American College of Sports Medicine offers two courses that meet NOLS’ requirements for Wilderness First Responder certification. These programs are outlined below along with other reputable organizations who provide similar coursework to help anyone achieve Wilderness First Responder level skills.

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