Wilderness First Responder (WFR)

(AK: 10 days /90 hours | UT: 12 days / 90 hours)

Wilderness First Responder (WFR), is the standard in wilderness medicine for guides, outdoor educators, SAR team members, and anyone that works or plays in remote areas. Our Wilderness First Responder course draws on the experience of both professional wilderness leaders and professional EMS practitioners for a comprehensive curriculum that teaches students to give solid emergency care in isolated locations. With a combination of class time, active hard skills instruction, and a focus on practical scenarios in an outdoor environment, students gain the skill and confidence to be effective Wilderness First Responders.

The IWLS WFR course is a 90 hour, 10 day course (12 days in Utah). While some time is spent in a classroom on your WFR, the course utilizes a scenario-based, hands-on, practical approach to the curriculum. Once you’ve learned the tools for assessment, treatment, and transport in a backcountry setting, you’ll practice numerous scenarios incorporating problem solving, teamwork, communications and client care.

COURSE LOCATION Alaska, Pacific Northwest, Utah & Nevada, Mexico, Ecuador, Argentina, Patagonia, Tanzania, Nepal

IWLS FIRST AID INSTRUCTORS are Wilderness Emergency Medical Technicians (WEMTs) who bring a wealth of knowledge from years of guiding and instructing in wilderness areas. They present scenarios you are likely to encounter in the field, and prepare you to handle emergencies efficiently, safely and professionally. They understand the realities of managing emergencies in remote locations, not only in Alaska, but around the world.

THE IWLS EMERGENCY MEDICINE CURRICULUM equips students with the knowledge and practical experience to effectively administer first aid in a wilderness setting. Here is a sample of some of the topics covered in our Wilderness First Responder course.

  • Scene Safety: Are rescuers going to be warm enough? Are you exposed to rock fall from above? The need for safety is paramount, for rescuers, patients and bystanders alike. We’ll go over body substance isolation and other key safety elements.
  • Airway Management: Oropharyngeal airway, head tilt-chin lift, or jaw thrust; we’ll discuss different airway management techniques, which ones to use and why.
  • Shock: Anaphylactic, volume, or septic. Learn to recognize the signs and symptoms of shock, how to treat patients, and how to differentiate shock from stress reactions.
  • C-spine Precautions: Was there mechanism for injury? Learn to prevent unnecessary injury and paralysis by taking proper care of the spine and making an impromptu backboard out of a backpack.
  • CPR: The science and techniques of cardio-pulmonary resuscitation are continually changing and evolving. You’ll learn the most up-to-date techniques and practice this crucial life-saving skill.
  • High Altitude Medicine: You’ll learn how to use a pulse oximeter, monitor acclimatization trends, and recognize signs and symptoms of Acute Mountain Sickness.
  • Patient Assessment: You’ll learn how to do a rapid initial assessment, do a thorough full body secondary assessment, take vitals, and recognize potential life threatening injuries and illnesses.
  • Cold Injuries: Recognize and treat frostbite. Learn techniques for prevention and treatment of hypothermia in the backcountry.

Included (Domestic)
Transportation within Alaska/Utah, professional instruction, camping equipment during backcountry portions, food during the backcountry portions, lodging during course (Utah only), course textbook/workbook, 3 year certification upon successful completion.

Not Included (Domestic)
Personal clothing and equipment, transportation to Haines/Salt Lake City, lodging during classroom days (Alaska only),  lodging before and after course, and tax.

Included (International)
Transportation from starting city, professional instruction, camping equipment, food during course, lodging during course, course textbook/workbook, 3 year certification upon successful completion.

Not Included (International)
Personal clothing and equipment, transportation to/from country,  lodging before and after course

CERTIFICATIONS Upon completion of the 10-day – 12-day WFR course, participants may qualify for the following certifications:

Wilderness First Responder (WFR)
International Wilderness Leadership School

BLS for the Healthcare Provider
American Red Cross

CPR for the Professional Rescuer
American Heart Association


DATES & PRICES Please see our schedule for current dates and price information.