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  • Wilderness First Aid

    Took my recert for WRFA recently. I forgot what a great course this is. If your area offers it or you can get to one that does I highly recommend it. The hands-on scenarios and classroom work is invaluable to crews and units that spend time in the back country, as well as just basic unit camping and outings.

  • #2
    Are there any opinions on whether it would be better to attend WFA as offered through BSA (Council sponsored) or through non-BSA SOLO Wilderness First aid Teacher? Just wondering about others experiences. I'll need this by next June for Philmont.

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    • #3
      The core content for most wilderness first aid courses is pretty similar. Although they use different texts, most of them are very similar, and most texts are pretty well written. (I helped write the Red Cross text, so I'm kind of partial towards it). The differences between courses and course providers generally are in cost, presentation, and instructor experience and knowledge. Last time I looked, more than a dozen organizations offered wilderness first aid courses. They tend to fall into two categories.

      The largest and best know wilderness medicine course providers include Wilderness Medical Associates (WMA), Stonehearth Open Learning Opportunities (SOLO) and Wilderness Medical Institute (WMI; associated with National Outdoor Leadership School). All of them have strong instructor training programs, strong support for their instructors in terms of teaching resources and all maintain pretty solid quality control over their instructors. They also require extensive medical experience and backcountry experience to become an instructor. They all offer programs beyond the first aid level, including Wilderness First Responder and Wilderness EMT. Their programs tend to be very high quality, but their cost ($150-$200 for a weekend is typical) tends to be higher as well.

      Other organizations that offer wilderness first aid classes (including Red Cross) tend to have fewer experience requirements to become an instructor, and probably have greater variability in their course delivery. They also tend to be less expensive (often $100 or less). That doesn't mean you'd have a bad course from groups outside the 3 mentioned above. In fact, you might get an incredible class from a skilled and highly experienced instructor. However, there is likely to be more instructor to instructor variability. The best instructors will be as good as you'd see anywhere. The worst might not be able to earn instructor certification from the larger programs.

      Best advice would be to research the instructor and the course in advance, and take the one that best fits your needs and your budget. A council sponsored one might better focus on issues specific to scouts. A SOLO, WMA or WMI course might have a wider range of outdoor leaders. Either way, chances are pretty high you'll get a lot of any wilderness first aid course. Hope this helps.

      Robin

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      • #4
        Originally posted by rjscout View Post
        Are there any opinions on whether it would be better to attend WFA as offered through BSA (Council sponsored) or through non-BSA SOLO Wilderness First aid Teacher? Just wondering about others experiences. I'll need this by next June for Philmont.
        See what Kayaker wrote as this is spot on. The course I took was through the Red Cross but the staff have been doing it for many, many years and have themselves gone through the instructor programs at those higher-end schools. They in turn bring in experts who teach ski patrols, mountain rescue, S&R teams, etc. The lead is a WFA physician and the staff are well prepared. The realism was incredible. We researched which course to take as Kayaker recommends, spoke to the staff and were satisfied we were getting a great course for a decent price. Was not cheap but well worth it.

        Oddly enough, I found much of what they taught as "advanced first aid" was similar (in part) to what we used to be taught in BSA all those many years ago. The other advanced first aid was truley wilderness and remote centric.

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        • #5
          Kayaker and MB... thanks for your info. Good advice!

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