Thinking About Getting WFR Certified

Perry

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Recently I've been toying with the idea of taking Wilderness First Responder Certification training. My goal is not to become a professional WFR but to be better prepared for medical emergencies in the back country, both solo and with hiking partners. Anyone here a WFR and care to share your thoughts and experiences?
 

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Wanderlust073

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On my list as well, just haven’t been able to prioritize dedicating the days the course requires. Did complete cpr, and may start with WFA first given the smaller time commitment.

Hope you do a ‘trip report’ if you do pull the trigger on it!
 

regehr

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I'm in the same boat-- want to do this but haven't found time. Would love to hear more.
 

Nick

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@Dave and I did our WFA certifications together in 2018. It was great and a nice way to get good training without the larger cost and time commitment as WFR. Two days, 8 hours each day, through NOLS/REI. I don't feel any regret in not going full WFR. The toughest thing is just remembering it all as time goes by after the course. I can only imagine how much harder it would be with WFR.
 

Nick

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This is the one we did. Looks like there's one in March at the same place. And you get a tour of the Petzl headquarters and warehouse too!


86302
 

Outdoors24

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I did a course a while back and felt like it was worth while. The only downside to mine was I did through a college and it took a whole semester.
 

Hiker Seth

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Saving this for retirement. I'm pretty good to go on the medical continuing education until then. Would like to do the whole WEMT course so I could do some volunteer work that keeps me outdoors.
 

b.stark

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Did a NOLS wilderness first aid course back in college and would wholeheartedly recommend it. Never did WFR but maybe someday. The instructors I had did a very good job and the information was good, practical stuff.
 

ImNotDedYet

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WFR is five full days, and IMO more than what you're looking for OP. WFA is more up to speed with what it sounds like you're looking for. NOLS does this around the country for 2 8 hour days. It's a fun, hands on look at applying medicine in the backcountry. IMO, it's very much worth it to have the knowledge, it's quite extensive in the things they cover, and having not used it in a year and a half, it's easily forgotten. ;) But they do give you a card.
 

fossana

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I took a 4 or 5 day WFR class back in college (a while ago :)), but didn't do the recerts. I thought it was useful, and used some of techniques I learned (spinal immobilization and level of consciousness assessment) as recently as this past year. Unless you need the certification, you could just get a WFR manual and practice with some friends. A lot of the class was just hands-on repetition. The key is having those methods be second nature and maintaining a cool head if something does happen.
 

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Perry

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Thanks for everyone's replies so far. For those that are interested in the full WFR cert in Salt Lake at least there are evening + weekend options so you don't have to commit to full week days. Either way the full WFR is not cheap running about $450.00 vs $250.00 for WFA. I'm still debating which way I might go.
 

Bob

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Saving this for retirement. I'm pretty good to go on the medical continuing education until then. Would like to do the whole WEMT course so I could do some volunteer work that keeps me outdoors.
Wemt is not a state recognized program. It is a piece of paper from someone. Be farther ahead getting a state emt cert.

Wildmed is one of the best out there.... There are a lot of mediocre classes around
 

JulieKT

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I say do it, since you never know what may happen out there. At least get the WFA if not the WFR, though if you plan to spend a really significant amount of time in the backcountry, getting your WFR is a great idea.

I’ve been a certified WFR since...2004? Can’t remember. I now recert every two years in Moab (so difficult to do it there ;) ), which is a lot of fun as well as an excellent refresher. I do it through NOLS (and Canyonlands Field Institute), though my very first full-length course was through Wilderness Medicine of Utah, held up at the U and mostly taught by medical students. (Some of which were great, some of whom had zero idea of what they were talking about compared to all the course attendees. That was right when they were first starting up WMU, so hopefully they’ve improved by now.) That course was also 10 days long and exhausting. But I had to do it for my job at the time. About 8 (?) years ago, I switched to recert-ing through NOLS because one of my besties had been doing it through them in Moab every year, and she convinced me they were a much more stellar program. I totally agree with that. NOLS is on it, and they have the most experienced, kickass instructors I've ever had. Some of them are hilarious too, which is always a bonus during a refresher. The NOLS WFR refresher is 3 days. I believe for WFA there is no refresher, you just have to retake the actual course. But it's fairly short.

Having the WFR refresher every two years is super helpful to my memory. My very first refresher ever I was just like, Haaaalp, I’ve forgotten everything. Now, I’m more confident about remembering much more of the training, and I do actually do my own refreshing now and then in-between actual recerts by glancing through the WFR book or taking their free online practice test again now and then. Check out that test, it's pretty cool to learn from. They also keep up on and tell you about new accepted medical practices, and they’re great about sharing actual field situations as training stories during the recert. Lots of good resources and case studies on their website as well.

Now, caveat emptor, I was an outdoor guide in various capacities for many, many years, and I still guide professionally now and then, so it behooves me to stay current on my certification. But I also do it because I wander into the wilderness on my own or just casually with friends all the time, so yeah. I like to keep up. My thoughts are that since most people on this forum really enjoy going into the backcountry, I will humbly suggest that if you do that reasonably often, whether alone or with others, it really is a good idea to get either the WFA or WFR certification and then stay certified. For the most part, most people heading into the wilderness are going to stay safe and uninjured. But most injuries and accidents that happen are totally unexpected, of course, and you just never know if something may happen. I think it's better to at least have some training, even if you don't recert, if you do like to head out into the backcountry on the somewhat regular. If something bad happens, having a modicum of training can help you feel at least somewhat in control and not panicked during the situation. Though yes, it's totally possible to forget everything if you're scared. (Ask me how I know that lol.) Carrying a little first aid book with reminders on what to do in some situations can help too. And the more often you recert, the more confident you will feel out there.

Here's one more link to a great podcast call The Sharp End about backcountry accidents/mishaps that provides a lot of learning information from those who experienced them. It focuses on climbing, but also has episodes about hiking, backpacking, canyoneering, how to not get carbon monoxide poisoning in your tent, etc. Great podcast with excellent info about how to avoid backcountry injuries/accidents, or how to correctly handle them if they happen.
 
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Bob

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Just remember.... It doesn't make you a emt.
 

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