Wilderness First Responder
Also valid as 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.
Affiliate of the Wilderness Medical Society
Completely online: pause, rewind, or double speed.
This is a 16-part course that teaches how to care for patients in remote locations or challenging weather, with questionable communication and support, improvised equipment, and limited time for decisions.
20+ Hours of Wilderness Lectures
Patient assessment, Basic Life Support, Circulatory System, Respiratory System, Nervous System, Trauma, Environmental Medicine, Animals and Insects, Medical-Legal, and more. Course also includes textbook and 40+ hours of supplemental podcasts.
Test your knowledge with real-life cases and challenging medical scenarios. Make treatment and evacuation decisions based on the signs, symptoms, available gear, and environmental conditions.
Improvise tourniquets, splints, bleed stoppers, spinal stabilization, litters, hypothermia wraps, and more with items around you. Submit photos and videos to the course instructors and get feedback. There is no need for extra equipment purchases.
Final multiple-choice WFR Certification Exam and certificate (good for 3 years). If you need the “Wilderness EMT” designation, submit proof of current EMT license.
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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 of 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.
For more information, download the syllabus here.
You get 90 days of access to all course materials and lessons.
Certification requirements include completion of all portions of the class, passing the final written exam (>70%), and submission of all additional materials, including SOAP notes, medical cases, and practical skills. Each component is checked thoroughly, and feedback is provided before certification is granted.
We spent all of 2021 converting the Wilderness First Responder curriculum into a virtual format to make it more affordable and accessible to those who need it. By teaching this virtually, we save thousands of dollars on operation costs, such as travel and renting a classroom to teach it. 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 otherwise provide in-person, given the constraints and inefficiencies of the 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. There is no prior medical training required for the WFR course. However, even physicians and other healthcare providers will gain a lot from this course. The wilderness is a challenging setting, and medical care often differs from the standard hospital setting.
Yes. This course provides fantastic medical and outdoor education, and we encourage you to take it even if you don’t need the official certification.
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, it generally takes a few days for us to check through it all, 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.” However, this course alone has no bearing on the EMT licensure. You must submit current proof of licensure for the “Wilderness EMT” certificate.
You can use this course to re-certify as often as you need to. The requirements are the same whether you are certifying for the first time, or recertifying. However, students who have taken many WFR courses in the past and are very familiar with the material are able to complete it 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 inherent legal protection or recognition by any state department of health.
There are many benefits to taking Wilderness First Responder online. You can complete it efficiently and on your own time, with minimal disruption to your school or work schedule. You can pause, rewind, and review topics you are weaker on, 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 you would in the in-person format. You must also demonstrate proficiency in the practical skills portions. We are also available to answer questions as you go.
This course was created by highly trained wilderness medicine physicians and outdoor professionals (see below). It exceeds the 2016 Established Minimum Guidelines and Scope of Practice for Wilderness First Responder (WFR). It is widely accepted, including by the National Association for Search and Rescue (NASAR), American Canoe Association (ACA), National Park Service, USDA Forest Service, ski patrol agencies, guide companies, and countless more. If you are unsure, we encourage you to send the course syllabus to your employer to verify that this course will satisfy your requirements.
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 (sticks, boards, ski poles, or rolled up newspaper).
Natalie Bonthius, MD
- Fellow in the Academy of Wilderness Medicine (FAWM) Candidate
- Advanced Wilderness and Expedition Provider (AWEP)
- Advanced Wilderness Life Support
- International Association of Near-Death Studies (IANDS) Board Member
Richard Ingebretsen, MD PhD
- University of Utah School of Medicine clinical instructor
- Program Director, University of Utah “Wild Med U” Program
- Medical Director, Salt Lake County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue
- Former Associate Dean of Students Affairs, University of Utah College of Science
- Founder of the Glen Canyon Institute
- Vice-Chair of Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance
- Founder of Wilderness Medicine of Utah
- Owner of River Bound Adventures
- Firefighter/Paramedic, Jackson Hole Fire/EMS and Grand Teton National Park
- Award-winning author of Wild Rescues, Lights and Sirens, and Beneath Blossom Rain
- Graduate of UCLA’S renowned Daniel Freeman Paramedic Program
Robert Scanlon, MD
- Board Certified in Internal Medicine, Pulmonary Medicine, Critical Care Medicine, and Sleep Medicine
- Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS)
- Advanced Trauma Life Support (ATLS)
- Owner – Somnopath, LLC-medical science consultant
- Owner – Medical Media Consulting