Wilderness First Aid

If you were hiking or backpacking far from medical services, would you know what to do in an emergency? The Wilderness First Aid Committee offers members the highest quality safety training available at a reasonable cost. Our primary goal is to increase the number of people able to assist in emergency situations. Each of our volunteer instructors has been certified by the Emergency Care and Safety Institute, which is a collaboration between the Wilderness Medical Society and the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons. You do not have to be an AMC member to take one of our WFA courses; however, AMC members can take the course at a reduced rate. Keep an eye on AMC’s Activities Database for upcoming trainings.

What is Wilderness First Aid?

Standard first aid practices are generally based on the assumption that help will arrive shortly, and that the patient will be out of your hands and at the hospital in under an hour. Wilderness First Aid training intends to prepare you for the medical situation that arises where there is no ambulance, no roof or walls to provide shelter from the elements, your supplies are few, the wait for help is unknown, and moving the patient a short distance might take hours. While teaching you how to deal with these situations, WFA also teaches how to avoid the problems that cause these situations through increased awareness.

Wilderness First Aid is not a course in herbal or naturalistic remedies. It is not a course in wilderness survival or backcountry skills such as map reading and shelter building. The course is based on modern emergency medical care practices modified and expanded for backcountry environments and focuses on patient care and prevention. The courses are typically held at the Stephen & Betsy Corman AMC Outdoor Center in Harriman State Park, the Mohican Outdoor Center in Blairstown, NJ, and the Weis Center in Ringwood, NJ.

What does the Wilderness First Aid course cover?

The ESCI Wilderness First Aid course is an intense yet fun journey through the world of wilderness emergency care. It’s recommended for all people who spend time outdoors. The course is a two-day, 16-hour course (8 hours/day, generally 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.). It covers a full range of situations, from scrapes and blisters to life-threatening emergencies. In addition to wilderness medical care, participants learn accident scene management and how to communicate effectively with the outside world. (Or, how to give yourself the best odds that the rescue party turns up in the right place with the right equipment the first time.)

How to get Wilderness First Aid-certified

There is a two-year Wilderness First Aid certification available to those who successfully complete this course. There are no prerequisites for this course. However, it is recommended that participants take a separate Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) course. Contact your local chapter of the American Heart Association, American Red Cross, National Safety Council, or your local hospital or first aid squad for more information on CPR courses.

How to become a volunteer WFA instructor

The WFA Committee is looking for a few good EMTs/Ski Patrollers to train in and instruct the Wilderness First Aid course for the Chapter.

Qualifications include:

  • Must hold certification as an EMT or NSP/OEC Tech (or higher), Wilderness EMT, or Wilderness First Responder, and hold a professional-level CPR card.  Other certifications will be accepted upon review.
  • Prior medical is helpful but not required.
  • Candidates must have significant outdoor experience. For example: hiking, backpacking, canoeing/kayaking, backcountry skiing, technical rock/ice climbing, etc.
  • Teaching experience is helpful but not necessary. More important is the desire to teach and the ability to present clearly to WFA students and to facilitate activities during the training.
  • Candidates will be asked to make a presentation to a WFA class of material they have previewed.

Please contact the WFA Committee Chair at WildernessFirstAid@amc-ny.org or 201-414-0801 (before 9 p.m. ET).

If you would like more information, or if you are interested in volunteering to become a WFA Instructor, please contact the Wilderness First Aid Committee at WildernessFirstAid@amc-ny.org.