If you are planning a self-supported trip into the wilderness, guess what? The doctor is not in. Neither are the EMTs. Shouting 911 at tree and rocks will get you nowhere.
Joking aside, if you are a person who regularly spends time in the wilderness, it’s a good…no, a GREAT idea to get wilderness first aid training (and also a great idea to encourage your regular adventure buddies to do the same).
Having a basic knowledge of first aid is an essential skill in the backcountry, where medical care is unlikely to arrive quickly in the case of a medical emergency. It’s important to have a robust first aid kit, but if you don’t know how to use it, it’s nearly worthless.
At Ordealist, we focus on vehicle-based adventure — overlanding, off-roading, car camping, etc — but training in wilderness medicine is a general skill that will serve you well for many different backcountry activities, from rock climbing to mountain biking to backpacking trips. Heck, it can clutch on a day hike gone wrong.
Wilderness First-Aid Courses
Below, we’ve started a running list of wilderness medicine courses to help you find training. We’ll keep adding to the list as we learn about new courses, and may even break it down by region when we find courses that are very specific to a geographic location. If you know about any organizations or companies near you that regularly hold wilderness medicine classes, please send us the info through our contact form.
National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS)
NOLS is an renowned global outdoor leadership school 1965 by Paul Petzoldt, a world-famous mountaineer and a member of the Army’s 10th Mountain Division. A non-profit, NOLS offers a number of wilderness training courses in the United States and a number of other countries. Visit NOLS for more info.
American Red Cross
The American Red Cross offers “wilderness and remote first aid” courses at locations around the United States. The course is designed for scouts and scout leaders, outdoor enthusiasts and anyone who works or spends time in remote environments. Visit the Red Cross website for more info.
Recreational Equipment Co-op (REI)
U.S. outdoor equipment retailer, REI offers wilderness first aid courses in its stores nation wide. These are often given in partnership with NOLS, and range in scope, from basic wilderness first aid to more in-depth training for wilderness first responders. Visit REI’s course page for more info.