Should I Take a Wilderness First Aid or Wilderness First Responder Course?

Whether you enjoy weekend hikes with friends and family or aspire to be a mountaineer or tour guide, having first aid knowledge can be incredibly beneficial and may even save a life. However, out in the wilderness where you have limited resources in an uncontrolled environment, things can get a little tricky. A Wilderness First Aid (WFA) or First Responder (WFR) course can be a huge asset in difficult or unforeseen situations. In the world of risk management, these courses gives you the knowledge and training to prevent, assess, and treat injuries and illnesses that you may potentially encounter in outdoor environments. Here are some of the best reasons to take a Wilderness First Aid or Wilderness First Responder course and how to decide between the two.

You Love the Outdoors

If you love the great outdoors and spend a lot of time camping or in remote areas for your job, a Wilderness First Aid or First Responder course can be incredibly beneficial and make you feel more at peace in your element. Being in the wilderness comes with inherent risks, and being knowledgeable about what to do in various medical situations with limited resources can ensure you’re fully prepared for any situation and can fully enjoy what you love. 

Accidents Happen

While you probably plan to have an enjoyable day out in nature, unfortunately, accidents do happen. Being out in the wilderness, especially in an unfamiliar environment, various things potentially could go wrong. From run-ins with wild animals and nasty bug bites to cuts and scrapes or falls, sometimes things are out of our control and you or a loved one gets injured. By taking a wilderness course, however, you’ll know what to do if an accident or injury does occur.

Help is Not Always a Phone Call Away

Even if you’re on a short hike on a nearby trail, immediate help can be difficult to come by without road access. It becomes even more of an issue if you’re in the middle of nowhere without cell reception and no way to contact help. Even the most minor injuries can become serious without proper or immediate medical care. With Wilderness First Aid training, you may be able to treat the issue on your own or allow for more time to be comfortable until professional help does arrive. 

Boost Your Confidence

If you spend a lot of time outdoors, taking a wilderness course can prepare you for the unexpected, giving you a huge confidence boost to take on just about anything. Oftentimes, injuries occur because we don’t have the knowledge or experience and we, unfortunately, learn the hard way. When situations happen and we aren’t knowledgeable about what to do, fear and panic set in, and we’re more likely to make mistakes. By taking a Wilderness First Aid or First Responder course, however, you’ll learn the best preventative measures to protect yourself and what exactly to do if something bad does happen. At the end of the day, knowledge is power.  

Many Outdoor Professions Require It

Professions such as hiking guides, camp counselors, search and rescue, forest rangers, and outdoor educators require a Wilderness First Responder certification while for other professions, a Wilderness First Aid course may look great on your resume and help you advance professionally. If you aspire to have one of these professions as a career, it may be in your best interest to get a head start and take the course. 

There’s Always More to Learn

Whether you enjoy hiking in your free time or you’re highly experienced out in the wilderness, there will always be more to learn and room to grow. With wilderness courses and certifications, you can gain real-life skills and tools to prepare you for scenarios not just out in the wild, but in everyday life as well. 

Which Course is Right For You?

Both the Wilderness First Aid and Wilderness First Responder course are useful certifications to have under your belt. However, the wilderness first responder class requires more training as it covers more in-depth topics while wilderness first aid is an introductory course. If you’re unsure which course to take, here we break down both courses to help you decide which may be right for you.

Wilderness First Aid

A Wilderness First Aid course may be best if you:

  • Desire familiarization with general medical and life support skills
  • Have no previous medical background or training 
  • Want basic knowledge for personal or professional growth
  • Typically go on day trips or short endeavors as a hobby
  • Willing to dedicate 2 days to training

Wilderness First Responder 

A Wilderness First Responder course may be best if you:

  • Desire expertise in emergency response and life support skills
  • Have previous medical, FA, CPR, or lifeguard training
  • Are in a leadership role working in remote areas (ie: guides, military, rescue teams, researchers etc)
  • Typically go on multi-day trips in remote areas
  • Willing to dedicate 5 days or more days to training