Wilderness First Aid

11:38 a.m. on May 20, 2009 (EDT)
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Last week, Barb and I spent a couple days renewing our wilderness first aid certifications. This is training I strongly recommend for anyone doing serious backpacking or wilderness travel. In our case, we are required to have it for the trips and hikes we lead and for the leader training I do for Boy Scouts. The protocols have changed a bit over the 25 years or so we have been taking the courses, so it is necessary to stay up to date. If you aren't acquainted with WFA as opposed to basic first aid, it's a whole different world. It isn't as extensive or intensive as wilderness first responder, but is far beyond the basic CPR and first aid courses you get from Red Cross. Red Cross does offer WFA course, but they fall short of what you get from Wilderness Medicine Institute (part of NOLS), Wilderness Medicine Associates (the main organization of wilderness MDs), and a couple others.

The basic first aid and CPR that Red Cross offer is urban-oriented, where 911 gets paramedics there in 5-10 minutes, and basically teaches a bit of rescue breathing and stop serious bleeding. If you are more than a hour from the trailhead, 911 isn't likely to be that much help.

A WFA or WFR course doesn't make you an MD, much less an EMT, but it could make a big difference if someone in your group gets seriously hurt, or if you encounter some other group with a seriously injured person.

We had 2 MDs in the course, who commented on how much they learned that was different from what they do at their well-equipped hospitals, plus a ski patrol instructor who noted that it added a lot to his skills when backcountry skiing where you don't have a bunch of ski patrolmen with sleds and snowmobiles at the ready.

1:48 p.m. on May 20, 2009 (EDT)
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Thanks for the recommendation and reminder, Bill.

We did a WFA course with SOLO years ago and I know we should renew it: [url=http://www.soloschools.com/wfa.html]http://www.soloschools.com/wfa.html
I found it incredibly useful and informative.

(p.s. I moved this thread out of Off-Topic, since I think it's very on-topic.)

9:33 p.m. on May 20, 2009 (EDT)
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The WFA training is something that I do want to do, so is a NOLS adventure/ backpacking course. I would love to do one of their Northwest courses in Oregon or Washington.

I almost had the time and money a couple years ago but work started slowing and I decided to hang on to the money.

10:58 p.m. on May 20, 2009 (EDT)
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Excellent advice. I have my WFR from Wilderness Medical Associates, and highly recommend their program if you have the time to invest.

My med kit dispenses mostly bandaids when my kids scape their knees, and I hope I never need to use the more serious training that a WFA or WFR cert. provides. Nonetheless, it's sure better to have it than not.

1:02 a.m. on May 22, 2009 (EDT)
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Good basic first aid is a must if one spends any sort of time out. I also have some background in sports/athletic training. I have had to draw on that experience as much or more than first aid. And most of the first aid has been blister control (see the blister thread).

People forget when we are out in the wilderness, the doc-in-the-box and 7-11 isn't just around the corner...I am AMAZED at how ill prepared in some of the basics some hikers are.

4:42 p.m. on May 26, 2009 (EDT)
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I just completed a Wilderness First Responder Certification for my big summer trip across the country.

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