Wilderness First Aid

What is wilderness first aid?

Wilderness first aid, or “WFA”, is a generic term that commonly refers to any training course that focuses on prevention, assessment, and treatment for an ill or injured person in a remote environment where definitive care by a physician and/or rapid transport is not readily available. This is defined as being an hour or more away from advanced care.  WFA courses are intended for anyone planning a remote high adventure, from lay responders to medical professionals.

Why is WFA important?

WFA prepares participants to identify and address medical issues that can arise in the backcountry.

Generally, WFA courses contain substantial medical information and teach skills to respond to medical emergencies in the wild. It is important to remember that many providers offer “wilderness first aid” courses, but the courses vary in content, duration, accreditation, and other factors. 

A BSA-led task force developed a WFA training curriculum specifically for Scouts and Scouters to help them provide assessment and treatment miles from advanced care.  More information on the curriculum is below.  

Treatment skills are important, but so is educating Scouts and adult leaders to recognize illnesses early and minimize the potential for injury. The skills learned in a BSA-approved WFA course can save lives.

WFA is not just for the backcountry.  It is just as relevant in urban areas during hurricanes, floods, fires, or mass casualty events when emergency services might be strained.  WFA knowledge can be lifesaving.

“When an emergency occurs in the wild, the goal must be to provide the greatest good for the greatest number in the shortest time, and do no harm in the process.”

Who needs WFA?

Youth (14 years old and up) and adult Scout leaders are encouraged to take a 16-hour WFA course based on the specific curriculum developed by the BSA, which includes a management dimension that most course fail to address. Participants will likely find it the most valuable program they’ll ever take.