Wilderness Medicine, as you will find the term commonly used, extends
the topics commonly taught in first aid, first responder, and emergency
medical technician programs. Instruction in conventional first aid
courses routinely includes such a phrase as "...until the ambulance
arrives." Emergency medical technician programs presume the
rescuer is either a member of an ambulance crew or can anticipate
arrival of an ambulance very quickly. One of the guiding principles
of the emergency field treatment for trauma (injuries, as opposed
to illnesses) is that the urgent goal is to place the patient in
a medical facility, preferably an emergency department qualified
to surgically treat traums, within one hour of receiving the injury.
Emphasis is on getting the patient safely off the scene within ten
minutes of the ambulance arrival.
Wilderness medicine, in the context of emergencies, presumes that
the ambulance or air ambulance is hours to days from arriving. This
is a very real possibility when the injury occurs on a backcountry
trail, and someone may well have to walk out to summon help or the
patient may have to be laboriously carried out. Wilderness medicine
also includes such matters as environmental injury from cold, heat,
or high altitude, the effects of toxic plants and animals, and the
types of injuries that may be experienced from the stresses of moving
and working in the outdoors. By necessity, wilderness medicine includes
the basics of rescue and transport in backcountry settings.
You will see a course titled "Wilderness First Responder"
mentioned repeatedly. Completion of the equivilent of this course
is almost always a prerequisite for employment as a facilitator
or councelor in a wilderness or outdoor adventure program and many
summer camps. The "Wilderness Emergency Medical Technician
(WEMT) course usually prepares the student to take the certification
examination in one or more states or the National Registry. It will
be quite a substantial course that includes the standard EMT material
plus wilderness and rescue topics.
There are currently no standards for "wilderness" medical
courses, except those of the organizations that have developed their
own. Although most will be quite similar, the "wilderness"
portions are developed solely by the individual organizatons and
companies. Of course, those courses that also prepare students for
EMT certification must conform to the standards of at least one
state or the national standards.
Whether you are seeking the knowledge to travel safely in the
backcountry or searching for professional certification, we invite
you to join us during the 2006-2007 season.
Courses taught in partnership with