The NOLS Wilderness First Responder (WFR) course is designed to provide you with the tools to make critical medical and evacuation decisions in remote locations. Classroom lectures and demonstrations are combined with realistic scenarios where mock patients will challenge you to integrate your learning.
The 80-hour curriculum includes standards for urban and extended care situations. Special topics include but are not limited to: wound management and infection, realigning fractures and dislocations, improvised splinting techniques, patient monitoring and long term management problems, up-to-date information on all environmental emergencies, plus advice on drug therapies. Emphasis is placed on prevention and decision-making, not the memorization of lists. Half of your time will be spent completing practical skills, case studies and scenarios designed to challenge your decision making abilities. Adult CPR is included in this course.
Learning takes place both in the classroom and in outdoor settings regardless of weather conditions. Come prepared for wet, muddy, cold or hot environments.
The 80-hour Wilderness First Responder course is the industry standard.
We will try to be outdoors as much as possible, regardless of the weather. Please dress appropriately for the weather, and to be comfortable both in and outdoors at any time during your course.
80 hours / 9-10 days
Backcountry guides, canoe trip leaders, private expedition groups, college/university outdoor education programs, hiking club trip leaders, wilderness therapeutic programs, EMT’s and adventure race safety personnel.
NOLS Wilderness First Responder certification and NOLS Adult & Child CPR certification
*Currently certified EMT’s may receive WEMT Certification instead of WFR.
- This course is pre-approved for 70 hours of EMT Continuing Education Hours (CEH) by the CAPCE.
- Active members of the Wilderness Medical Society may earn up to 59.5 hours of credit towards a Fellowship of the Academy of Wilderness Medicine (FAWM).
- This course is approved by the United States Coast Guard to satisfy the first aid and CPR training requirements [46 CFR 11.205(e)(1)(i) &46 CFR 11.205(e)(2)(iv)] for a merchant mariner license.
The WFR course is rapidly becoming the industry standard certification for guides and trip leaders. It is a 9-10 day intensive program, with greater than 80 hours of contact time in a learning setting. Teaching methods include an emphasis on didactic lectures and hands-on, experiential workshops and scenarios. There will be two evening sessions – one on the 3rd day of the course, and one on the 7th day (subject to rescheduling based on local weather and other logistics). The night mock rescue is one of the highlights of the course, pulling it all together in a backcountry setting, and illustrating what it truly takes to evacuate an injured or ill person. Your rescue gear needs to be packed and ready to go at any moment throughout the course. Please refer to and follow the WFR Gear List closely, and contact us with any questions you may have.
NOLS provides its own CPR certification within this course. It incorporates the American Heart Association’s 2015 curriculum guidelines with wilderness protocols to deliver a set of skills that is pertinent to our use in a wilderness setting. If you require, for your job description, an AHA training certificate we can discuss this with you prior to the course.
Bad things happen outdoors and usually in bad weather! So, be prepared for the weather…dress in layers that you can be removed indoors or in the sun, and layer up when we go outside. Full rain protection is a necessity, both rain tops and pants. Your comfort and ability to pay attention during this intense course will be helped if you stay well-hydrated and have snacks on hand to munch during class. The course ends with a written exam and a scenario-based practical exam. You must score 70% or better on the written exam and pass the practical exam to be eligible for certification. It is your responsibility to pass the exams on your own, and to let us know throughout the course when you are finding challenges and needing additional help. It is our job as educators to help you know where you are succeeding and where we see you are needing additional help, so that you can focus your energies and be successful at course end.
The course ends near 5PM on the last day with the exams, student evaluations of the experience, and graduation. Please do not make travel plans that require an earlier departure or you will have to make alternative testing arrangements at a later course.
All course materials will be given at the start of your course.
If you would like to read ahead, you can visit the NOLS store on-line. You will find some great resources there, particularly Todd Schimelpfenig’s NOLS – Wilderness Medicine. Other resources will be provided during your course.