Please note: While SMC still sponsors courses, the registration is now handled by NOLS not SMC. Please direct all questions to NOLS.

This nationally recognized program trains participants to respond to emergencies in remote settings. The 80-hour curriculum includes standards for urban and extended care situations. Special topics include but are not limited to: wound management and infection, realigning fractures and dislocations, improvised splinting techniques, patient monitoring and long term management problems, up-to-date information on all environmental emergencies, plus advice on drug therapies.

Half of your time will be spent completing practical skills, case studies and scenarios designed to challenge your decision-making abilities. The Heartsaver® BLS Adult CPR is included in the course.

A Wilderness First Responder (WFR) is recognized as the minimum training an outdoor professional should have. Many providers of outdoor programs now require their lead instructors to have this training. Gone are the days of Advanced First Aid courses, 16 to 24 hours in length, being adequate training for the outdoor professional. For those working or playing in the wilderness context, officially defined as “two hours or more from definitive care,” this course is probably more valuable than an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) training since EMT is designed for an entirely different context: it assumes availability of rapid patient transport. WFR training stresses the idea that the most important tool in your first aid kit is your brain and emphasizes improvising tools for evacuation, bandaging, splinting, and long term patient care in remote settings.


Due to Covid-19 our usual locations in Bishop are unavailable. So we will be using the Chalfant Community Center about 14 miles north of Bishop on US Highway 6. No lodging is available on site but Bishop has campgrounds, motels, and free camping abounds.


This course is sponsored by Sierra Mountain Center and provided by The Wilderness Medicine Institute of NOLS. WMI’s goal is to provide the highest quality education and information for the recognition, treatment and prevention of wilderness emergencies. WMI’s teaching philosophy is to emphasize treatment principles and decision-making, not the memorization of lists. Their philosophy centers around the physical and psychological well being of their students and staff. They value the entire experience of a WMI program rather than simply the learning of medicine. WMI’s staff is comprised of professional educators who understand the importance of fun and experience as invaluable learning tools. They feel strongly that a student’s ability to feel confident about themselves and their ability to make decisions is of greater value than text-book medical skills. They emphasize decision-making and employ scenario-based teaching as a complement to lecture style instruction. They believe that this is why their students learn so well and feel confident in employing their newly acquired judgment and skills. Curriculums, overseen and continually revised by a committee of medical practitioners and academics, are taught on all seven continents.
Wilderness Medical Associates International annually trains over 8,000 medically and non-medically trained students around the world. Participants include colleges and universities, medical schools, camps, outdoor adventure companies, rural ambulance services, private industry, and government entities.

Class format

Course days run from 8:00am to 5:00pm. We use open classroom space which is comfortable and to maximize room we remove most of the tables and chairs. You will probably want a Crazy Creek type chair for outdoor sessions. Much of the practical lessons take place outside, rain or shine, warm or cold. Bring a small tarp to spread out on and your own foam pad that you don’t mind getting dirty or even cutting up to make splints.


We are often asked if the course materials can be sent ahead of time but this is difficult for us to arrange. There is a formal book that is provided with the course but there are also numerous handouts and the like that are not finalized until very near the course so WMI does not send course materials to us until just before the program.

Pets are not allowed on site so please leave Fifi or Sparky at home.