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Online Wilderness First Responder

Qualifies for Wilderness-EMT upgrade.

The recognized industry standard for backcountry trip leaders, camp counselors, mountain guides, river guides, ski patrollers, and anyone else who works or plays in the outdoors.


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When EMS is far away & conditions are ready.

Canine search & rescue team

The same gold-standard curriculum taught by other wilderness medicine schools... important topics you won't find elsewhere

Pregnant woman hiking

...a widely-accepted 3-year certification

Top-rated by first responders + SAR teams

"Their method of teaching & testing the practical skills is so creative..."
“I’ve had my EMT license for 10 years and I’ve always been interested in wilderness medicine. I decided to take the virtual Wilderness First Responder course so I could get the Wilderness EMT certification. I am so glad I did it through Survival Med. The virtual option was great because I could do it in the evenings, on my own time. I could review the material as much as I wanted and spend my time on the topics that were most interesting to me, like altitude illness and hypothermia. I saved almost 1.5K by taking this online. I cannot thank you guys enough.” ~B. Zellmer, 2022
"The material was very well done."
I'm a SAR leader in California, and I really appreciated this option for my team. It was very convenient for them. We had about 12 members who needed to enroll in WFR for SARTECH purposes. I'm so glad we could make this an option for them. The material was very well done. ~Josh B., 2022
"I learned a ton."
I took WFR online and really enjoyed it. I wasn't sure how the online format would work, but I thought it was very well put together and taught clearly. It was extensive, and I learned a ton. I also felt like they did a good job of emphasizing the most important points that are possible to remember long-term. The scenarios were also great and solidified my understanding of the topics. ~Jack M. (2022)
"...Conducting this training remote was as effective as in person."
"This course was exactly what I was looking for. The capability of conducting this training remote was as effective as in person, when you are being evaluated skills performance recordings, written exams, scenario based testing it prepares you to succeed. I will continue training with the skills learned, and the best part is I have access to the materials to refresh and practice/review as often as I need. Let alone the time I was able to take and go at my own pace to absorb the materials. Thank you SurvivalMed!!!!" ~R. Schneider, 2022
"Getting to an in-person WFR class was just not an option."
Thanks for a great class! I liked being able to do it on my own time in the evenings. I have two newborns at home, so getting to an in-person WFR class was just not an option. Plus the added expense of travel and time off work- I really liked being able to do it this way instead. The lectures were very thorough and yet easy to understand even without much medical background. ~Doug C. (2022)
"I greatly enjoyed the course!"
I've taken a NOLS WFR and subsequent recert along with getting my EMT cert and this class was perfect for me—especially not having to travel. Thanks so much! ~ Kyle M. (2022)
"Reinforced the learning in a way that live lectures could not do."
I really appreciated the course. I work full-time in Indiana and also guide in Grand Canyon seasonally for an REI-contract company (backcountry trips north & south rims), so WFR was an imperative for me! Being able to navigate the course without missing work (& the cost of travel to get to a course) was terrific. But, primarily, the course materials are very well done and I liked the added podcasts and video demos. But, I was able to go back and rewatch several chapters (almost all of them actually) and that, plus the study guide, reinforced the learning in a way that live lectures crammed into a single week could not do. ~ A.P. (2022)
"Very worthwhile and valuable class."
I am a Navy hospital corpsman veteran, former ski instructor, retired physical therapist, hike leader for the Sierra Club, active Red Cross responder and active CERT member. This is a very worthwhile and valuable class that I highly recommend. ~Jeff W.
"Thank you."
As an ICU RN, a SAR and mounted search and rescue volunteer, I found this stock full of information, came away with many pearls and also had the benefit to access a new great list of podcasts! Thank you. ~Caryne E.
"This course provided so much valuable information."
I've been an RN for 33 years and worked in many different settings- critical care, ICU, and the emergency department. This course provided so much valuable information. Medicine in the wilderness is just not the same as saving a life in the hospital. I highly recommend it whether you have decades of medical experience or none at all.
"This course was the ticket for me."
The NOLS course was too much info, too fast. This course, being self paced, was the ticket for me. Natalie was always available to help with questions, and the lectures were well organized. I filled out the study guide as I went through the lectures and used that during the exam. As an alternative to the much more expensive 8 day courses, I would highly recommend this online course. ~Scott R.
"A great mix of online learning & practical demonstration of skills."
I had been given a last minute directive to have WFR within a month or lose a seasonal job. I was about to pay MUCH more with the additional expense of lodging for a NOLS course when I found this course. I found this course engaging, stimulating, and appreciated being able to do it at home and at my own speed. Dr. Bonthius was attentive and answered my questions quickly. It was a great mix of online learning and the "personal" practical demonstration of skills. Thanks so much for helping me save money and perhaps my summer job! ~Kathleen R.
"Not just sitting behind a computer monitor!"
I loved that I could do this at my own pace. Originally I planned to just pound it out and then life got in the way. If it would have been in a traditional classroom setting I might have needed to bail. The videos are great and the information is short, sweet and to the point which is how I like my information most of the time. The responses to email, questions and final submittal were fast and efficient. I loved that there were required videos and pictures to take as well. Not just sitting behind a computer monitor. Thanks for everything! ~Shane W.
"I loved this class."
I loved this class. The option of doing this virtually saved me so much time and money. I had to get my WFR re-certified for my job, and I was really stressed out that I wouldn't get it done in time. Dr. Bonthius helped me a lot and I was able to get it all done. She was extremely responsive and accommodating. I would recommend this class to anyone- it was lifesaving (figuratively AND literally) for me. Many of the other guides in my company have joined now. THANK YOU. ~Mark Antonio

...and extra resources that help you now and in the future.

Rescue team at climbing fall

Preview WFR lectures, cases, skills & curriculum

16 wilderness medicine lectures on patient assessment & care of circulatory, respiratory, head, spine, soft tissue, musculoskeletal, wildlife injuries, legalities & more.
Check out a sample scenario-based Medical Case assignment
Individualized instructor feedback as you demonstrate competency in tourniquets, splinting, spinal stabilization & more via videos & photos.
Review the entire Survival Med Wilderness First Responder curriculum

Frequently Asked Questions

Our innovative curriculum was developed by wilderness and emergency medicine physicians at the University of Utah and Southern California, in response to an international need to improve the accessibility and affordability of top-quality outdoor education and wilderness certifications.  It is widely accepted, both nationally and internationally, including by the National Association of Search and Rescue, American Canoe Association, National Park Service, USDA Forest Service, expedition and guide companies, and many more.

You get 90 days of access to all course materials and lessons.

To receive your certificate you must:

  • Receive a score of 70% or higher on the final written exam
  • Receive satisfactory grades on all assignments, including SOAP notes, medical cases, and practical skills demonstrations submitted via videos and photos.

By teaching this virtually, we save thousands of dollars on operating costs including travel, facilities rental, and instructional costs.

This allows us to charge significantly less than other WFR course providers.  It also allows us to teach a more thorough class than we could provide in-person, given the constraints and inefficiencies of live classes.

Yes. The certification exam is included. It is comprehensive and multiple choice.

This online option is appealing for a wide variety of people. Some people are new to wilderness medicine, and they want a self-paced opportunity to learn the material. Others have extensive training and experience, and they want a refresher of their skills.  The variety of learning materials available (lectures, podcasts, textbook, practice scenarios, etc.) allow you to learn with whatever method is best for you, and at whatever pace you want.

No. The WFR course does not require prior medical training. However, physicians, nurses, EMTs and retired military medics routinely tell us that the emphasis on improvising care and the breadth of information is great reinforcement and often updates their knowledge. The wilderness is a challenging setting, and backcountry or remote medical care often differs from the standard hospital setting.

It is completely self-paced. A motivated person could complete it in about a week.  Most students like to spread their learning out over a few weeks.  After submitting all course requirements, allow 10 days for us to review your assignments, provide feedback and issue the certification.  If you need expedited review, just reach out to us. 

Yes. If you submit proof of a current EMT license, we can designate your certificate as “Wilderness EMT” rather than “Wilderness First Responder.” Please note that WFR training does not qualify you for any licensed healthcare position.

Recertification requires that you receive a satisfactory grade on all the Medical Cases and practical skills assignments and pass the certification exam. Students who are already extremely familiar with the material can often complete recertification fairly quickly.

The WFR designation is the recognized industry standard for lay people (non-medical providers) who work in the outdoors. This certificate can help you gain employment with events, camps, mountain and river guide organizations, ski patrol, search and rescue, and much more. However, no matter where you earn your certification, your scope of practice and standard of care are determined by state and county laws, as well as your organization or employer and their medical director. Wilderness medicine courses alone (whether through us or any other organization) do not offer any legal protection or recognition by any state department of health or licensing board.

Online Wilderness First Responder training lets you complete your training efficiently and on your own time, with minimal disruption to your school or work schedule. You can pause, rewind, and review topics as well as double-speed the topics if you’re a fast learner. The online format is also much less expensive. WFR courses typically cost around $1,000 plus travel expenses, and require as much as 10 days of commitment. We provide realistic cases that require you to think through scenarios in the same way that in-person classes do. You must also demonstrate proficiency in the practical skills portions. We’re always available to answer questions as you go.

This course was created by highly trained wilderness medicine physicians and outdoor professionals (see below). It complies with the World Federation for Medical Education Standards for Distributed & Distance Learning in Medical Education. It is widely accepted by many organizations and businesses, including by the National Association for Search and Rescue (NASAR), ACA PaddleSports/American Canoe Association (ACA), National Park Service, USDA Forest Service, ski patrols and beach patrols, mountain rescue teams, guide companies, and countless more.  If you are unsure, we encourage you to send the course curriculum to your employer to verify that this course will satisfy their requirements.

For the practical skills demonstration you’ll need:

  • A blanket or tarp for an improvised litter;
  • Sleeping bag for hypothermia wrap
  • ACE bandage or other cloth wrap for bleed stopper and tourniquet
  • Flexible splint or improvised splint material  like sticks, boards, ski poles, or rolled up newspaper

Survival Med Faculty

Dr. Natalie Bonthius

  • Founder of Survival Med
  • Emergency Medicine Physician, UHS-Southern California
  • Certified Advanced Wilderness & Expedition Provider
  • Advanced Wilderness Life Support Instructor
  • Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS)
  • Advanced Trauma Life Support (ATLS)

Kevin Grange

  • Firefighter & Paramedic, Jackson Hole Fire/EMS & Grand Teton National Park
  • Graduate of famed UCLA Daniel Freeman Paramedic Program
  • Award-winning author of Wild RescuesLights and Sirens, & Beneath Blossom Rain

Dr. Carson Harper

  • Emergency Medicine Physician, UHS-Southern California
  • Class Five Whitewater Rafting Guide
  • Mountain Bike Medic
  • Swift Water Rescue
  • Wilderness First Aid instructor
  • Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS)
  • Advanced Trauma Life Support (ATLS)

Dr. Richard Ingebretsen

  • Emergency Room Physician
  • Clinical Instructor, Univ of Utah School of Medicine
  • Program Director, Univ of Utah “WildMed U”
  • Former Associate Dean, University of Utah School of Medicine
  • Medical Director, Salt Lake City UT Sheriff’s Search & Rescue

Dr. Robert Scanlon

  • Board-Certified Physician in Critical Care, Internal Medicine & Pulmonary Medicine
  • Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS)
  • Advanced Trauma Life Support (ATLS)