Online Wilderness First Aid Courses
Wilderness first aid courses provide the knowledge and skills necessary to treat injured parties when there is delayed access to medical care and communication is unreliable. Learn more about courses in wilderness first aid, online and hybrid options, and the topics these classes cover.
What Do Wilderness First Aid Courses Teach?
Wilderness first aid is offered as a single course and is not offered completely online. Hybrid options are uncommon, where online students spend at least part of the course learning hands-on techniques in person. Most commonly, wilderness first aid courses are presented in person. The instructors explain basic life support skills and general medical concepts that can be used in remote locations when medical facilities and healthcare professionals aren't immediately available.
Students learn evacuation techniques and the best way to contact emergency help, along with how to treat head wounds, spinal injuries, insect bites, stings, hyperthermia, and mild illnesses. They may also learn how to treat minor injuries specific to an environment, such as responding to hyperthermia and heat illnesses when performing water rescues and mountain extrication. Some or all of the following subjects are covered in a wilderness first aid training program:
Setting a fracture or dislocation
A fracture in the wilderness can cause a great deal of pain and greatly impair a person's mobility. Wilderness first aid training will teach you how to use large tree branches to make a splint and crutch. Other related topics may include where and how to tie a splint, what to do with an open fracture and how to realign and stabilize a bone.
Checking vital signs
Wilderness training will help you check for a person's level of consciousness, their respiratory and heart rate, their skin temperature and condition, and their overall alertness. You may learn to detect if their pupils are equal and reactive to light, and to test their blood pressure, pulse, and heart rate.
Wilderness first aid typically trains students in the differences between hypovolemic shock, cardiogenic shock, and neurogenic shock. You may learn the signs and symptoms of shock, such as level of consciousness/LOC (restless, confused or anxious), respiratory rate/RR (rapid and shallow), heart rate/HR (rapid and weak), and skin color, temperature and moisture/SCTM (cool, clammy and pale). The course will typically cover what to do if you suspect shock in a patient.
Carrying injured individuals
Depending on the circumstances, performing first aid may not be enough, and you may need to transport an individual out of your location to receive medical attention. You may learn how to fashion a 'drag bag' using a tarp or how to tether together large branches to form a stretcher.
Applying treatment to burns and wounds
Burns are very painful especially if they are severe or medical help is miles away. Second-degree burns cause blistering, and third-degree burns present the risk of infection. First aid training prepares you to treat burns until help comes. Topics include the four C's - cool it, clean it, cover it, and call for help. You may also learn what to do and what not to do if a burn covers a large area of the body, if you have no clean water available, or if no first aid supplies are available.
At What Levels Are Wilderness First Aid Courses Available?
Wilderness first aid courses are offered at the beginner, intermediate and advanced levels. Some courses are taught on an individual or small group basis, just as standard first aid courses might be. Students must generally be at least fourteen years of age, and prior CPR certification may be required. Courses can range from 16 hours to 40 hours.
Can I Complete These Courses Online?
Since much of first aid training requires active participation, courses in wilderness first aid are typically offered on-site or on-campus, and in many instances can be completed in short workshops of 2- or 5-day classes. Hybrid (online and on-site) programs allow students to complete some coursework online, take an exam, and then participate in shorter in-person sessions to round out the training. It is possible to earn your wilderness first aid recertification completely online.