Wilderness First Responder & WEMT Upgrade 

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Wilderness First Responder (WFR) & Wilderness EMT Upgrade (WEMT)  To be scheduled

WFR/WEMT is a professional-level course that trains you to understand and avoid wilderness hazards and cope with emergencies anywhere. You learn how to assess injuries and medical or environmental problems, and do emergency care with whatever you have on hand or can improvise. So this course also prepares you for disaster situations, when emergency medical services and hospitals are overwhelmed or inaccessible. We use vivid slides and interactive teaching methods to bring the topics to life. Skills practice is intensive. Realistic simulated accidents help you put your skills together and develop your leadership abilities. 

Certifications: Participants who are currently certified as EMT’s or Paramedics receive WEMT certification on graduation; other participants receive WFR certification. National Association for Search and Rescue (www.nasar.org) certifications are recognized throughout the United States and in many other countries. To be certified, you must complete all skills training and skills logs, and pass the exams. Wilderness topics and skills are the same for WFR and WEMT, but EMT’s and Paramedics are already trained in urban emergency care, especially in assessing medical problems and life support techniques.

Instructor: Steve Donelan, NREMT, developed his Wilderness Emergency Care program and is the author of the textbook.  He is section editor on education for Wilderness & Environmental Medicine (www.wms.org), and a peer reviewer of several standard textbooks. He has published many articles on emergency care and how to teach it.

Schedule: WFR is about 80 class hours, WEMT Upgrade about 40 class hours. 

Textbook: Wilderness Emergency Care, Third Edition Revised is available from Amazon and NASAR.

Course materials: You will need a SAM splint, which you can buy from the instructor in class at wholesale cost ($10), and a stethoscope. 

What is wilderness?
For the purpose of emergency care, wilderness means any situation where advanced care and additional resources are out of reach or unavailable, because you are at a remote location (more than 2 hours or so from help) or because a major disaster has overwhelmed the medical system.

What will you learn?

Environmental hazards
You will learn about the effects of heat, cold, altitude, solar radiation, and lightning on the body: Prevention, assessment, and treatment.

Biological hazards
Bugs, snakes, bears, aquatic hazards, plants, contaminated water: What can they do to you and how can you protect yourself? What about diseases that mosquitoes, ticks, and fleas can transmit? And how can you disinfect water in the wilderness?  

Wilderness wound care
In a wilderness situation, you need to clean and disinfect wounds, and apply bandages that will stay on as the patient walks, skis, scrambles, or is evacuated out. So you will learn and practice far more bandaging techniques than EMTs and other medical professionals do.  

Wilderness fracture & dislocation management
You will learn how to align angulated fractures, reduce dislocations, and use various commercial and improvised splints for fixation and traction splinting. You will also learn how to align a patient with possible spinal injuries who is found in a bent or twisted position (seldom taught in EMT or paramedic courses).

Medical problems in the wilderness
You will learn how to assess medical problems in wilderness situations, what you can do about them, and how to decide if they require an evacuation.

Wilderness extrication & transport
You will learn how to build sleds and litters to evacuate patients from the wilderness.

Above all, you will learn how to improvise care with whatever you have or can find in the wilderness.


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Steve Donelan

last update: August 11, 2018