406-920-2808 & 866-535 (OWLS) 6957 The Boars Head Charlottesville, Virginia erik.henyon@owlsinc.com

Open Daily

Year Round


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


8 Days – 80 HOURS


The most comprehensive wilderness training in the United States – Wilderness First Responder (WFR) is the standard level of training expected for professional guides, outdoor educators, and search and rescue personnel. After successful completion of this course, you will be competent to handle both traumatic and medical emergencies, provide the extended care required in a remote environment, and make appropriate evacuation decisions.


Topics include wilderness wound management, orthopedic injuries including realigning fractures and reduction of select dislocations, improvised splinting, improvised litters and evacuation techniques, traumatic injuries to the head and chest, medical emergencies of the respiratory, cardiovascular, and neurological systems, wilderness drug protocols, acute abdominal emergencies, high altitude illnesses, heat illnesses, cold injuries, envenomations, and more.


The curriculum for this course heavily favors hands-on, scenario based practice. The first two days of the course are spent in the classroom while the remainder of the course is taught in the field, making the practice scenarios and conditions as realistic as possible.



CPR for the Healthcare Provider.



8 Days Mostly Field Includes Exam!


Age: 18 and over


Dates Virginia:

May 21-June 1, 2012 (Filled First!)

June 5-June 16, 2012 (Waiting List Course NOT AVAILABLE Until first course fills)


Tuition: $1,200 Includes Room and Board Registration DEADLINE 3/15/2012




All Meals
USFS Permits

Guided Hiking on the AT with experienced Guides

Leave No Trace Instruction

Backcountry Travel Instruction (including cooking, camping, hiking, route finding/map reading, water treatment, foot care, bear proofing camp, layering and basic self care)

Wilderness First Responder Certification

American Heart CPR Certification



Dates Montana:
March 12-March 19, 2012


Tuition: $825 DEADLINE 1/15/2012




Wilderness First Responder Certification
American Heart Association CPR Certification

Instruction by experienced backcountry guides and ER Nurses




Want to work for ski patrol, professional search and rescue, the fire department, rural emergency care services, or just complete a higher level of training than the standard EMT Basic curriculum provides? This is the course for you.


In addition to the Nationally approved EMT Basic urban curriculum, you will learn the latest wilderness medicine practices and protocols that will enable you to treat, stabilize, provide extended care, and make appropriate evacuation decisions for patients in a remote setting.


The first portion of this month-long intensive program is held in the classroom and covers urban pre-hospital basic life support as well as American Heart Association-CPR. In addition, you will participate in a clinical observation at a regional critical care hospital. The course then moves into the field for 10 days, in order to make the practice scenarios and conditions as realistic as possible.


Wilderness medicine topics addressed during this section include wilderness wound management, orthopedic injuries including realignment of fractures and reduction of select dislocations, improvised splints, wilderness drug protocols, wilderness CPR considerations, improvised litters and evacuation techniques, extended patient care, heat illnesses, cold injuries, high altitude illness, lightning injuries, envenomations, and more.


PRE-REQUISITE: Must be 18 years old.



30 Days Mostly Field Includes Hospital Rotation and State Certification Exam!


Age: 18 and over


Tuition: 3,000


Dates: TBD by Interest


College Credit:

Montana State University, Northern Arizona University, Piedmont Virginia Community College, Colorado Mountain College* Courses taught in conjunction with DMM

Wilderness First Responder
Refresher Course -24Hrs


This course may be used to re-certify current Wilderness First Responder or Wilderness EMT (wilderness portions only). The 3 day course is heavily scenario based and will provide a review and update of wilderness medicine treatment practices and evacuation guidelines. American Heart Association CPR for the Healthcare Provider is also included in the curriculum.


Successful completion of the course and both written and practical examinations will refresh the student as a Wilderness First Responder or Wilderness portion of the Wilderness EMT. Participants will receive re-certifications cards good for the same amount of time as their original certifications.


2 Days


Age: 18 and over

Tuition: $250.00


Dates Arizona:
4/8/11 – 4/10/11 – Flagstaff, AZ


Dates Colorado:
4/16/114/17/11 – Leadville, CO

5/14/115/15/11 – Leadville, CO


College Credit: (Optional)

Montana State University, Northern Arizona University, Piedmont Virginia Community College, Colorado Mountain College* Courses Taught in conjunction with Desert Mountain Medicine