Wilderness First Aid (WFA)

Accidents can and do happen on ropes courses, along country roads, or in the backcountry, and all too often members of a group are not capable of dealing with the emergency. Not only does this lead to improper care of the patient, but it also endangers the entire group.

Studies have shown that many recreational accidents are preventable, and that improper care of trauma can compound even the simplest of injuries. Through our involvement in emergency medicine and rescue efforts, we at SOLO feel there is a need for training for all outdoors people – training which stresses preparedness and prevention; training which encompasses all phases of off-road emergencies; training which focuses on extended care issues in prolonged transport situations. Very few first aid programs actually address the issues of providing emergency care in a rural, wilderness, or extended care setting.

Started as the “Mountain/Woods First Aid” course in 1975, this was the first course of its kind in the United States, and it is the curriculum upon which all other backcountry medicine courses are based. Wilderness First Aid (WFA) has become SOLO’s most popular course and it creates a solid foundation in the basics of backcountry medical care. Designed specifically for groups and their leaders, this 16-hour program covers topics ranging from preparation and prevention to assessment and treatment. All SOLO instructors are experienced rescue personnel with extensive outdoor experience and have been selected not only for their expertise in emergency medicine and rescue, but also for their teaching skills.


Who is This Course For?

The WFA is the perfect course for the outdoor enthusiast or trip leader who wants a basic level of first aid training for short trips with family, friends, and outdoor groups. It also meets the ACA guidelines.

What is Taught?

The WFA is 16 hours long (two days), and focuses on the basic skills of: Response and Assessment, Musculoskeletal Injuries, Environmental Emergencies, Survival Skills, Soft Tissue Injuries, and Medical Emergencies—see course outline in sidebar.

Is There and Exam?

Yes, there is ongoing evaluation of practical skills, and there are written assessments throughout the course.

Do I Get Certified?

Yes. You will receive a SOLO WFA certification, which is good for two years.

Does the WFA Count as Continuing Education?

The WFA may give continuing ed credits (depending on the specific requirements for your certification) and is approved for recertifying SOLO’s Wilderness First Responder program.

Course Outline

Classroom lectures and discussions are supplemented by practical work and problem-solving exercises. The emphasis is always on hands-on experience. Scenarios are an important part of this training.

Day 1:

  • Patient Assessment System
  • Shock
  • Long-Term Patient Care
  • Soft Tissue Injuries

Day 2:

  • Environmental Emergencies
  • Fractures/Dislocations
  • Splint Improvisation
  • Preparedness

While much of the material appears to be standard emergency care information, the backcountry emphasis with long-term care and evacuation complications makes this course unique. Course material can be somewhat modified to meet the specific needs of a group, i.e. cycling, kayaking, climbing, etc. Since the principles of first aid are taught, this program is really applicable to any emergency situation.

WFA Course Topics

  • Introduction
  • Anatomy of a Wilderness Crisis
  • Anatomy of the Musculoskeletal System
  • Asthma
  • Backcountry Essentials
  • Cold-Related Injuries
  • Environmental Emergencies & Survival Skills (including lightning)
  • Heat-Related Injuries
  • Medical Emergencies & Critical Care
  • Orthopedics
  • Patient Assessment System
  • Patient Lifting & Moving
  • Principles of Fracture Care
  • Rescue Plan
  • Response & Assessment
  • Soft Tissue Injuries & Medical Emergencies
  • Spinal Cord Injury Management
  • Sprains & Strains
  • Techniques
  • The Human Animal
  • Trauma—Musculoskeletal Injuries
  • Trauma—Soft Tissue Injuries
  • Universal Precautions
  • Use of Epinephrine