Wilderness First Aid—What Is It and Why Should You Care?

Frequently Asked Questions 

What is it?

Wilderness First Aid (WFA) is the assessment of and treatment given to an ill or injured person in a remote environment where definitive care by a physician and/or rapid transport is not readily available. A BSA-led task force has developed WFA doctrine and curriculum. You must be certified through any of the providers listed below. Participants will learn how to assess, treat, and (when possible) contain emergencies within the scope of their training. Youth and adult Scout leaders over age 14 are invited to participate and earn their certification.

The BSA wants to do all it can to promote awareness of this course, and help as many Scouts and leaders as possible take the course and earn certification as a WFA practitioner.

"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.”

Why is this important?

This course goes far beyond what you may know as “first aid.” While it contains substantial medical information and teaches skills required for medical emergencies in the wild, the deeper purpose is to train participants to manage acute situations. The bottom line is this: Better decision-making at the incident scene miles from base facilities can save valuable time and human resources. It can save lives, too. If you wish to download the curriculum, please register here first; we would like to know the number of Scouts and Scouters who are interested.

Who is it for?

Youth and adult Scout leaders are encouraged to take this first-aid course, which offers a management dimension that most curriculums fail to address. Scout leaders will likely find it the most valuable program they’ll ever take.

The first thing you’ll learn to do in this course is establish control

Emergencies, big or small, may be charged with emotion and confusion. Even minor chaos increases the risk of injury to rescuers and bystanders, as well as the risk of inadequate care for the patient. Emergencies most often call for a leader to be directive, at least until the scene is safe and the patient is stabilized. This is best accomplished by discussing leadership in case of an emergency with other members of your party before a potentially critical situation occurs.

Course modules

  • Patient assessment
  • Chest injuries
  • Shock
  • Head (brain) and spinal injuries
  • Bone and joint injuries
  • Wounds and wound infection
  • Abdominal problems
  • Hypothermia
  • Heat problems
  • Lightning
  • Altitude illnesses
  • Submersion incidents
  • Allergies and anaphylaxis
  • Wilderness first-aid kits
  • Scenarios

After the course

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