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Wilderness First Responder (WFR) Certification Course | CWS

Wilderness First Responder

Wilderness First Responder (WFR) course is considered to be the ‘Gold Standard‘ in medical training for outdoor educators, guides, Search And Rescue professionals and others who work or play in the backcountry. Our comprehensive curriculum includes a didactic, hands-on approach to learning the essential principles and skills required to assess and manage both common and potentially life-threatening medical issues that may arise in wilderness and remote environments.
Wilderness First Responder - WFR

Our Next WFR Course is:

Interested in HOSTING a Wilderness First Responder course at Your Location? Let us know! Click here.
Patient Carry-Out on Stokes Litter

Want to know more about WFR?

Wilderness First Responder is an intensive 72-80 hour course specifically designed for outdoor educators, adventure guides, Search and Rescue professionals, as well as others who are in a position of leadership in an outdoor setting, or individuals who want a higher level of emergency medical training due to extended back-country trips or expeditions.

This course is designed for not only those that have next to no medical training – as well as medical professionals. The way we accomplish this is through our various well-proven teaching methods which address all levels of prior training and knowledge.

Typically taught over the course of 8 to 10 consecutive days, this format offers a comprehensive look at not only properly identifying and managing life-threatening injuries and illnesses that could appear in a wilderness setting (more than 60 minutes away from definitive care), but also incorporates a lot of hands-on skill practice, case studies, practical scenarios, evacuation planning and procedures, and other aspects of long term patient care involving wilderness context and situational awareness. Upon successful completion of the course, participants will receive a Wilderness First Responder certification from Center for Wilderness Safety, valid for three years.

Patient Assessment
Cutting Away Clothing for a Scenario

What To Expect

This intensive course is fast paced, and focuses heavily on hands-on learning through practical scenarios, case studies, simulations and more. Students will constantly be both indoors and outdoors for simulations and practice, regardless of the weather, barring severe inclement weather. Come to class prepared for the weather, as we spend a lot of time outdoors training.

  • General Info
  • Course Outline
  • Qualifications
  • Find a Course
Course Length:
72–80 hours of instruction
Actual course may be longer, incorporating hands-on scenarios, skills practice & activities.
Course Format:
WFR is typically taught over 8 to 10 consecutive days (please see below).
Courses taught over 7 or 8 consecutive days are typically 8 am - 5 pm daily, with multiple 7 pm - 10 pm.
Courses taught over 9 consecutive days often include a day off (day 5), and class is 8 am - 5 pm daily.

Course Tuition:
$585 – $875
Actual course tuition may vary depending on course location, logistics, meals accommodations, etc.
Wilderness First Responder (valid 3 years)
  • Be at least 16 years of age.**
    **The minimum age requirement to take Wilderness First Responder is 16 by the last day of the course, however younger participants may be allowed to take the course on a case-by-case basis.
  • Current adult + pediatric CPR/AED certification is required.
  • Complete the Two Required Forms (waiver & medical forms) prior to class.**
    **All Prerequisites MUST be completed at least 48 Hours prior to your course start date (if a course starts on Monday, they are due the Friday before at Midnight). Failure to do so will result in not being permitted to attend the course with no refunds.
NOTE: Access to these forms is granted once enrollment is complete.
Recommended For:

This comprehensive wilderness medicine course is recommended for both front- and backcountry guides, canoe and rafting guides, private expedition groups, college/university outdoor education programs, hiking club trip leaders, wilderness therapeutic programs, EMTs and adventure race safety personnel.

This course is strongly recommended for anybody in a position of leadership who may find themselves in a backcountry, remote, or austere environment, where help may be delayed for hours or even days.

The 80-hour Wilderness First Responder course is the industry standard for outdoor backcountry leaders. A sample list of topics covered in this course include (but are not limited to):

Airway Emergencies Life-Threatening Conditions
Allergies + Anaphylaxis Lightning Safety
Altitude Illnesses North American Snakebites
Anatomy + Physiology Orthopedic Injuries + Dislocations
Backcountry + Sudden Illnesses Patient Assessment System
Bites + Stings Patient Care Documentation
Body Substance Isolation Risk Management
Burns + Blisters Scene Leadership + Control
Chest Injuries Shock + ASR
Cold Related Injuries Soft Tissue Injuries
Common OTC Medications Submersion Emergencies
CPR in Remote Settings Suspected Spinal Injuries
Epinephrine Auto-Injectors Tick Safety
Evacuation Considerations Traumatic Brain Injuries
Hands-On Practical Simulations Venomous Spider Bites
Heat Related Illnesses Vital Signs
Improvisation / MacGyvering Wilderness Field Protocols
Introduction to Wilderness Medicine Wilderness Medical Kits

Your Wilderness First Responder certification may be renewed by taking any Wilderness First Aid, Wilderness Advanced First Aid, or Wilderness First Responder Refresher class taught by Center for Wilderness Safety.

Criteria to Recertify:
    • Current WFR certification (not expired)
    • Current Adult CPR/AED certification (not expired; must be by an accredited certifying body)
    • Candidates must successfully pass all practical scenarios and skills tests
    • Candidates must successfully pass the written WFR exam (even if taking a WFA to recertify)

      Recertification is offered to anyone who holds a current WFR certification from one of the following organizations: Center for Wilderness Safety (CWS), NOLS Wilderness Medicine (formerly WMI), Wilderness Medical Associates (WMA) or Stonehearth Open Learning Opportunities (SOLO). CWS does not recognize any other organization's "grace periods" for recertification.

      Unsure if your WFR certification is accepted?
      Give us a call us at Toll Free 1 (855) 505-1700.

Find a Wilderness First Responder Course Near You        Sponsor a Wilderness First Responder Course at Your Location

If your group or organization is interested in sponsoring a Wilderness First Responder course at your location, simply click the link above. Please note that we are scheduling courses out in advance (late Spring into early Summer) due to COVID-19 precautions.