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Wilderness First Aid vs EMT

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I'd had, but Eagle732 seems to keep going and going.


OK, so the Physician in Charge at Philmont has declared policy. We're at endgame. Eagle732 has two choices remaining:


1) Don't get the WFA certificate. Someone else will to answer the Philmont requirement, or his Crew will not be allowed onto the trail.


2) Get the certificate.


Does that make sense?

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Man this is one tough crowd! I didnt want to post that Philmont wasnt responding; I figured they were busy and would get back to me when they could. In the meantime I thought that posting might get some information from others who have questioned this already. The Health and Safety Officer, Gavin Faulkner was very helpful once I actually got to speak to him, he spent at least 15 minutes on the phone with me. He understands this is a problem that needs to be addressed. Im surprised that no one else from this forum has actually called out there to question this considering how many calls Philmont is apparently getting on this.

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Raising the standard beyond first aid and cpr is a great goal. To standardize to something that is hard to standardize is difficult. The cost seems to be variable with the different organizations that teach it. What should the cost be for 2 days of instructions and skills testing? $25, $50, $100, I'm used to paying $500 per day for some of the schools that I take for my job; so the sticker shock is not there for me. Become the instructor and teach others in your council.

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My WFA was $65 for the two days. It was held at summer camp so I was already a captive member. They advertised it for the first three days of summer camp to all adults to attend. Only three adults showed up, all from our unit. 5 would have attended but we needed to leave 2 back at camp with the boys.

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As a Medic for the last 25 years, I have to agree with RmemberSchiff. The ARC Wilderness First Aid is just a taste for the lay person. It gives them just enough information to maybe squeeze by. If it were me, I would be looking at WMA, SOLO or NOLS. Major cost difference, better programs.


Most EMT's and Medics are taught urban medicine. OK, add farm medicine for the rural guys. A city guy will in time figure out how to handle a farm accident, with regular training, but the farm boy will know how to do it faster and safer with different techniques that the city guy has no clue about.


How does this tie in with our subject? The regular EMT or Medic, unless they serve in an area that requires back-country rescue and techniques, has SAR's training, will be able to figure things out in time and make adjustments. But will it be in time?


1) Your climbing with a bunch of Scouts. Someone falls and ends up with a spinal injury. You are 6 hours back in the mountains. How are you going to get the victim out? You have no backboards to strap him to.


- The backpacks come apart, are lashed together to make a litter/ stokes, something rigid to support the spine so you can start extricating him from the back-country.


2) Above victim is unconscious with a head injury and needs the airway kept open during the retreat out. EMT's and Medics are going to keep manually opening the airway. That causes delays. You cant stop every couple of minutes to open his mouth.


What do you do?


The wilderness guy, with his little survival pack (remember that from TF, SC and FC) will hopefully have some different size safety pins, hopefully some big ones. The wilderness guy will pin the tongue to the lower lip keeping the airway open. Believe me, I really don't think most of the city guys would even think of this or try it.


The little safety pins come in handy in place of stitches when stitches aren't available.


3) He has an impaled object sticking out of his chest. Think Deliverance. The city guy will stabilize it as is. Man I wouldn't want that thing sticking out of my chest banging around on the tree branches as my buds are trying to get me out of the woods.


The wilderness guy is trained to break it off at the skin.


All you EMt's and Medics out there that think that BSA should give you a free ride on the WFA, let's get of the soapbox, become a little modest here and remember that we aren't GOD (as we accuse Doc's of being) and that YES we can still learn something more, sometimes from someone less trained then we are because they know how to do it different and sometimes better.


A good higher level WFA program teaches to think out side of the box, how to modify what you were taught in the hospital class setting to work in the wilderness setting and how to best care for your victim when you will take several hour to reach professional care.


Guys' It is just like the MD that shows up on your accident scene and wants you to rush getting the victim out of the car, forget C-spine immobilization and all other protocols because "I'M THE DOCTOR AND YOUR A MEDIC". It doesn't mean that he knows what he is doing when he is out of his elememt. Wilderness and Urban/Farm are based off of the same basic principles, but they are not the same animal.


Go take a good WFA program. It may cost a couple to several hundred dollars, but it will be worth it's wieght in gold. ARC is just a good introduction, maybe.

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I agree with ASM 915. A WEMT course is far different from a regular EMT course and an EMT course is much more advanced than a WFA or even WFR course. I took my Wilderness EMT from Remote Medical International and the course was far more advanced then any basic EMT course. We practiced advanced airways, injections, IV's, foley catheters, nasogastric tubes, suturing, etc. So as you can see the focus is on long term care and making do with what you have. Yes urban EMS has it's own issues and difficulties, but seriously.... have you ever dealt with a semi-combative patient in the snow for 48 hours taking vitals every 5 minutes while your partner builds a snow cave around you? Attempting to find a brachial pulse is hard when your hands are freezing! Or how about trying to auscultate a bp while the tapping of sleet hits your jacket hood? These courses do push you to the limit, but the skills you develop are awesome during a crisis. Our class consisted of doctors, nurses, paramedics, an Air Force Medic, Hot Shot Forest Service guys, firefighters, search and rescue members etc. all looking to gain insight into the wilderness portion of EMS.


When it comes down to it, the highest medical training you can get is well worth every penny! I have also heard amazing things about NOLS, WMA, and SOLO. If you have any questions feel free to contact me because I have quite a bit of experience in wilderness medicine.



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It is not a case of "an EMT is an EMT is an EMT". Every state is has its own EMT training standards and protocols for licensure and certification. BSA is a national orginization and has to have one set of standards for the whole counrty. If every state adopted the National EMT standards, BSA would probably begin to recognize EMT certification.



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One of the first things we teach in ARC WFA is that it is nearly impossible for a group of Scouts to evacuate a seriously injured person. Serious spinal injury? Forget the stretcher pack. Provide care and send for help. The course is not meant to teach someone how to be an EMT. It teaches the students how to be better prepared for a backcounty accident, how to treat and give care when help will be delayed, and how to deal with a multiple victim accident. All these skills are much more advanced than what is taught in a standard First Aid course.


This is a simple comparison chart for the ARC WFA and SOLO WFA taught in our Council:



mn-scout, I believe you can only "challenge" if you have previously taken the course and passed, but I could be wrong on that.

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