Frequently Asked Questions

Who is required to take Wilderness First Aid (WFA)? Requirements are program centric. As an example:

All four of the BSA high-adventure bases require at least one person per trek (two per trek at Philmont Scout Ranch) to be certified in WFA through an approved provider. Additional participants trained in WFA skills are recommended.

Council-run trek programs may also require participants to be current with WFA certification. If you are staffing a trek camp, WFA may be required. Check directly with the camp you will be attending.

In addition, participants in unit-centric high-adventure or backcountry programs would greatly benefit from WFA skills in the event of an emergency.

Through the summer of 2021 only, the following adjustments have been implemented for NCAP accredited local council camps and National High Adventure Bases.

Current Wilderness First Aid (WFA) certification will continue to be required for all backcountry adventures.  As a reminder, a current CPR/AED certification is a pre-requisite for a WFA course.

The BSA has been working with ECSI to design a blended learning format that combines 8-hours of online learning with 8-hours of in-person skills testing. This blended format is available on the ECSI website.

In addition, there are several options to satisfy this requirement for backcountry, wilderness and remote programs offered by local councils or national high adventure bases.  The options are:

1. The crew has at least one member with a current certificate of training in WFA from a nationally recognized provider.

2. The crew has at least one member who meets the criteria for an extension from the issuing agency. It is incumbent on the individual to research and obtain the extension with the issuing agency.

3. A member of the crew obtains “just in time training” prior to arrival. This may become more accessible as states begin to reopen.

4. A WFA trained staff member accompanies the crew.

5. A crew member completes the 8-hour online course, followed by the 8-hour skills test (prior to arrival, or upon arrival) resulting in a certificate of training.

Additional information for both instructors and students can be found on the ECSI website 

Note: Online-only WFA courses do not meet the WFA requirement.

Who can take this course? Anyone 14 years old and up. The BSA WFA course is designed for everyone from lay responders to those with medical experience participating in high-adventure camps or backcountry experiences.

How long is the course? 16 hours.

Do I need to have medical experience? No. This course is designed for anyone with or without medical training.

Are there any prerequisites for the course? Yes. You must be certified from a nationally recognized provider in both CPR and AED. First-aid training is a plus, but it is not a prerequisite.

How long does a WFA certification last? Two years.  However, the blended learning course for summer 2020 certification will only be valid until 12/31/2020.  

How was the BSA WFA curriculum developed? Epidemiological data from published literature and BSA sources was analyzed to determine the frequency of events during outdoor program and high-adventure experiences within Scouting and in similar programs outside the BSA. Education experts determined the appropriate training for a WFA-level course. Outcomes-based and peer-reviewed literature was utilized to develop the curriculum

In 2017, review of the WFA curriculum was concluded and revisions were made to reflect current medical trends and accepted treatment. This review was conducted by a group of medical experts with vast experience in the backcountry. You may download the material here.

What major differences are in the 2017 WFA revised curriculum? Many WFA students commented that they would prefer additional time to practice scenarios during the course itself. It was determined that grouping content into core and elective material would allow for greater scenario practice time. The total amount of time for the course remains the same at 16 hours.

Additional revisions revolve around changing medical ideology and treatment. International Liaison Committee on Resuscitation guidelines were incorporated as appropriate.