Wilderness First Responder (WFR) – 80 hours

Wilderness First Responder

Wilderness Medical Associates

Now the Canadian gold standard for wilderness trip leaders, the WFR is complete medical training for anyone tripping or working in remote areas. This comprehensive course is designed to train participants to assess, treat and evacuate patients in remote settings. The WFR is broad in scope, covering a wide range of environmental issues–altitude, cold climates, common tropical problems.


The Wilderness First Responder (WFR) course provides essential training in wilderness medicine, leadership, and critical thinking for professionals, leaders, and outdoor adventurers in outdoor, low-resource, and remote environments.

Course Format

This course model is taught in 8 days and all course work and training is completed entirely in-person with an on-site instructor through lecture, activities, simulations, and evening homework and review. Internet is required to register and complete pre-course paperwork. No other pre-course involvement is required.


The WFR Curriculum involves a minimum of 70 hours of instruction when taught in the United States and 80 hours when taught in Canada. Hours vary in other countries. During the course, students learn the essential principles and skills required to assess and manage medical problems in isolated and extreme environments for days and weeks if necessary.


Prior to enrolling, please review our Functional Position Description. The criteria in this policy allow students to self-assess their ability to meet the demands of a WMA International course as well as the demands of a certified wilderness medical provider in the field.


This course is pass/fail. 100% attendance is mandatory. Evaluation is based on practical patient simulations, hands-on activities, and a written test. WMA International is committed to making reasonable accommodation for any student with special needs.


Certifications are valid for three years. Graduates of this course may recertify by taking a Wilderness First Responder Recertification course or a Bridge (WAFA to WFR) course. 

Skills Taught

  • The general principles of wilderness and rescue medicine with an emphasis on identifying medical emergencies, critical thinking, and risk management.
  • Patient assessment and emergency care including CPR and AED use, basic life support skills, the patient assessment system, patient reporting, and calling for help. 
  • Environmental medicine including illness and injuries related to altitude, temperature, lightning, submersion, and environmental toxins.
  • Backcountry medicine including the assessment and treatment of common medical problems.
  • Treatment of injuries from traumatic mechanisms and the treatment of musculoskeletal problems such as overuse syndromes and dislocations.
  • Non-technical lifting, moving, and extrication of patients with an emphasis on spinal motion restriction when applicable. 
  • Practical Skills including bleeding control, wound management, bandaging, splinting, spine stable patient packaging, hypothermia management, medical kit preparation. 
  • WMA International wilderness protocols including treatment of anaphylaxis, wound management, CPR in a remote setting, spine injury assessment, reduction of simple dislocations, and treatment for severe asthma.

This course meets or exceeds first aid requirements for all Canadian guide certifications. Some examples: Association of Canadian Mountain Guides, BC Alliance of Sea Kayak Guides, Parks Canada, Canadian Camping Association.