Author Topic: Thinking it may be time to take a real First Aid class...  (Read 1745 times)


  • Stubble
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Thinking it may be time to take a real First Aid class...
« on: June 28, 2017, 12:27:50 PM »
What are some outdoor enthusiasts/experts thoughts on Wilderness First Aid classes out there? Do you have a good one you recommend?
I generally shy away from the paid classes through REI, but their partnership with NOLS seems like a good way to get access to some legit teaching/instruction. That is one option I'm considering.

Problem is it's $235!

That's 1 more month of work using dannymurphy's pretirement app! ;)

I am not truly in the 'backcountry' that frequently, pretty rare honestly. And I grew up outside, was a boy scout for a few years etc. But I feel wildly unprepared if something serious were to happen to me or a fellow companion in the outdoors (even like snake bites, sprained ankles far from where we need to be, close call with cold water in cold weather) The main thing I do outside is flyfishing, other kinds of fishing, and the wading and kayaking too do all of that.
Get $20 when you sign up for Personal Capital
(also, why are you not already signed up for PersonalCapital? It's free and amazing.)


  • Bristles
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Re: Thinking it may be time to take a real First Aid class...
« Reply #1 on: July 01, 2017, 08:31:34 AM »
We took a free wilderness first aid class this week that was sponsored by my church -- half a day, taught by a local paramedic who is also a member of the wildland rescue group. Half day, but it was a small group, so lots of hands-on stuff. Maybe you could talk to your local EMS service about putting on this kind of thing? We have also taken a free CPR class from the local EMS station -- they do one once a year.
If you have a Search and Rescue organization near you, you might ask them if they know of a class. The rec center in the town nearest me has also offered this in the past, and there may be other community organizations that do this. (If the SAR is looking for volunteers they might even train you in exchange for a few hours of your time volunteering.)


  • Stubble
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Re: Thinking it may be time to take a real First Aid class...
« Reply #2 on: July 11, 2017, 08:36:54 PM »
If you decide to take a WFA course, ask the organization teaching it who it is geared towards and what they cover to assess whether it would be useful for the type of outdoor activities you do.  I've often needed WFA for work, and over the last 10 years the courses I've taken have varied in quality and applicability.  I took some really excellent courses through Solo when I was leading backpacking trips for my university's outing club - their instructors understood what we did and spent a lot of time discussing prevention, problems we'd likely see (hypothermia, sprains, etc.), how to splint/bandage with stuff you actually have while hiking, and planning evacs without putting additional people in danger.  But the most recent class I took (taught by a paramedic at a government agency) focused way to much on major trauma that we were unlikely to ever see and wouldn't have been able to do much about in the wilderness anyway (other than hope your satellite phone works and the weather lets planes fly).


  • Pencil Stache
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Re: Thinking it may be time to take a real First Aid class...
« Reply #3 on: July 13, 2017, 01:28:47 PM »
Definitely ask for the course syllabus ahead of time and determine whether it's applicable to you.  In my experience these courses are great at teaching you the particulars of how to craft makeshift splits, crutches, stretchers, etc., how to correctly apply bandages to a variety of wounds, how to recognize life threatening injuries or conditions, and how to deal with some of them (like tourniquets, hypothermia/heat stroke, recognizing and using an EpiPen).  You can get a lot of good information from free or cheap first aid books and websites but it can be helpful to have someone show you how to make a sling, for example, and correct your technique.. that's where the benefit of the courses lies.  If you don't need the hands on then you probably don't need the course.

For what it's worth my plan in an emergency is usually to stabilize the injury well enough either to move yourself to the car, or to stay alive long enough for rescue to arrive.  Most injuries are not life threatening, or at least not immediately life threatening.  You're going to be limited by what you're willing to carry with you in your everyday kit, so don't bother learning any first aid techniques if you're not willing to fill your bag with the gear to implement them.  For instance if you want to brace a broken leg but your kit doesn't have enough rope or strong tape.  There are a lot of free resources online that can help figure out what you need in your own kit.

ETA: My experience is with a variety of training programs through the Boy Scouts (don't remember all the names - they drilled this stuff in us pretty hard though!) and annual Red Cross first aid training through a previous employer (can't remember if this was a one day course or two days).
« Last Edit: July 13, 2017, 01:32:24 PM by Hotstreak »