For outdoor enthusiasts, there’s no such thing as too much gear, too many hobbies or too much knowledge. Most adventurers are autodidactic by nature and love learning in a hands-on setting surrounded by people with loads of experience. Not to mention, they often want to be prepared should their adventure turn injurious. If this sounds like you, then signing up for a Wilderness First Aid or Wilderness First Responder course may be the next step in adding to your already extensive outdoor resume. Here’s how to do it.
Wilderness First Aid Certification
Wilderness First Aid is more basic than the Wilderness First Responder Certification, but every bit as valuable. Wilderness First Aid courses are typically 16–20 hour courses and are taught in a variety of locations across the country. NOLS, the National Outdoor Leadership School, hosts WFA classes throughout the year which are well-known for their thoroughness and experiential learning style.
What to Know Before You Enroll
Cost: Most of these classes range between $200-$300.
What you’ll learn: Patient assessment, CPR (depending on the class and location), fracture management, wilderness wound management, etc.
Who should take it: Avid adventurers, professionals who work in the outdoor industry
How it can help professionally: Whether you’re taking a summer job as an outdoor camp counselor or plan on leading a company climbing retreat, adding this certification to your resume says that you’re a serious outdoor adventurer with serious skills.
Wilderness First Responder Certification
This is the granddaddy of certifications and is typically pursued by those who work in the outdoor industry such as ski patrollers, guides and rangers. However, there’s no reason that an avid adventurer shouldn’t feel comfortable and competent in pursuing this certification. What you’ll need, however, is time, money and commitment.
What to Know Before You Enroll
Cost: This course cost typically ranges between $750-$1,200
Hours: This 80-hour course usually stretches over a 9–10 day format but may also be broken up into a 2‑week format depending upon location. Because of the time commitment, this course tends to be more feasible for those with summers off, such as teachers or students, or for professionals with jobs willing to sponsor their certification.
What you’ll learn: CPR, chest injury management, shock management, evacuation techniques, lightning strike management, and frostbite care are just a few of the items on the agenda for this comprehensive course.
Who should take it: Adventurers who engage in mountaineering, canyoneering or any outdoor sport where an injury is highly likely, along with professionals who work in the outdoor industry.
It should be noted that both of the programs typically offer some sort of college credit if you are a student, so be sure to check with the organization to see how this might apply to you.
Organizations that sponsor these certifications in your area may include NOLS, guide companies, and many universities.