5,945 forum posts
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.