Wilderness EMT Bridge

Are You already an EMS Provider or other Medical Professional?

True North stands apart from other wilderness medicine schools because our Wilderness EMT Bridge course bridges your front-country medical training with wilderness survival training so that you are equipped with the skills, gear, and knowledge to better meet the demands and realities of treating patients in remote and austere environments. 

This course is approved for 40 continuing-education hours for EMT, Paramedic, and PHRN. See details below.

After all, in a wilderness emergency you likely won’t have access to all that fancy equipment in your Emergency Department or on your ambulance.  Besides, would you even know how to quickly build an emergency shelter, start a fire, purify water to cleanse a wound or hydrate your patient, or even signal for help?  Without these skills, then, the simple reality is that in wilderness environments even a medical professional becomes little more than a first responder.


This course is approved by the WMS for credits in its Fellow of the Academy of Wilderness Medicine (FAWM) program for EMT, Paramedic, RN, PHRN, DO, PA and MD. See details below.

During our WEMT Bridge course, you will learn the dynamics of providing medical care within a wilderness context.  First, you will learn the importance of scene safety so that you can not only better protect your patient, but yourself as well.  Then you will review the patient assessment protocol which is the framework of all emergency care, from the first-aider to paramedic, but with added elements of working in remote locations.  From there, you will learn how to deal with traumatic injuries, like sprains, fractures, wounds, burns, and spinal cord injury management.  Then you will learn to deal with illness, including heat and cold related, altitude, and allergic reactions.


Wilderness EMS training exercise.

Just as importantly, though, you will learn the same approach to wilderness survival that is taught in the U.S. military.  You will learn about the Seven Priorities of any wilderness emergency — Psychology, Medical, Shelter, Fire, Signal, Water, and Food — by emphasizing basic preparedness, like tools and supplies, adaptability, and a realistic approach to improvisation.  This way you’ll be able to protect your patient and yourself until rescue or relief arrives.

So how does our WEMT training different from your medical training?  In some ways, you will find the training and issues very similar, but in most other ways you will find it vastly different.  First, you will learn to deal with issues that you typically won’t find in your urban patient population, like snake bites, moderate to severe hypothermia, and lightening strikes.  Also, in wilderness medical care there is a greater emphasis on improvisation so we will train you to better view the equipment in your pack, or what happens to be laying around, as appropriate resources.  In turn, the standard of care in wilderness environments, which is outlined by the Wilderness Medical Society (WMS), may differ substantially from your state protocols.  Most importantly, many medical providers only deal with patients for brief periods (maybe just the ambulance ride to the hospital) and in teams, but, as a WEMT, you may need to care for your patient for hours, or even days … all by yourself.

Our clients take this course for a wide variety of reasons.  Some take it because they play or work in the outdoors, while many others also take the program because they want to take their medical training to the next level so that they can work or volunteer in search-and-rescue, disaster relief, or in healthcare missions.

Here is an overview of the program:

  • Course Duration:  50 hours overall with 40 hours of instruction.
  • Tuition:  $675
  • Maximum Group Size:  10
  • Location: Harrison Hills County Park (roughly a 20 minute drive from Downtown Pittsburgh).
  • Requirements:  Current license & Healthcare Provider CPR certification.
  • Certification Length:  Two (2) years
  • Description of the Level of Physical Difficulty – Moderate:  This program will involve physical effort on terrain that is both relatively flat and includes some hills, over short distances at a slow pace on generally defined and established trails. Activities will involve outdoor and indoor portions. Activities will require lifting and squatting. No prior experience in the program is required.
  • Continuing-Education Credits: This program is approved for professional credits by the following organizations:
    • This course is approved by Pennsylvania Department of Health for forty (40) continuing-education credits (Clinical Patient Care 28 | Other 12) for EMT, Paramedic & PHRN.
    • This course is approved by the Wilderness Medical Society (WMS) for 34.25 credits (17.25 core / 17 elective) in various medical and trauma subject areas, including Survival, Field Craft & Equipment, of its Fellow of the Academy of Wilderness Medicine (FAWM) program, but please note the WMS credit policy for all of its accredited programs: “This course offers FAWM core and elective credits. Actual credits awarded depend on personal credit needs and history as determined by the Wilderness Medical Society.” For a detailed course breakdown, please visit their Activities Eligible for Fellowship Credit and click on the course listed in the schedule, or contact the WMS directly.
    • National Registry of EMTs

      This course may also meet the requirements of recertification for the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians: “The NREMT accepts continuing education that has received official approval through your State EMS office and/or the Continuing Education Coordinating Board of Emergency Medical Services.”  For more information, please visit their FAQs.

    • New Jersey Department of Health

      Through reciprocity agreements between the various states, your state Department of Health may also accept these credits towards your certification credit requirements.  To confirm, please check with your local department.

  • Description of the Level of Physical Difficulty – Moderate:  This program will involve physical effort on terrain that is both relatively flat and includes some hills, over short distances at a slow pace on generally defined and established trails. Activities will involve outdoor and indoor portions. Activities will require lifting and squatting. No prior experience in the program is required.

Check out these answers to some commonly asked questions:

Where is this course located?  The in-person portion of this program is run at Harrison Hills County Park, in Natrona Heights, Pennsylvania, which is very conveniently located outside Pittsburgh.  It is roughly a 20 minute drive from Downtown; easily accessed from various interstate highways; and the Pittsburgh International Airport.

Where can you stay overnight?  There are many overnight options nearby, representing a wide array of budgets.

What about the Novel Coronavirus?  As part of our continuing effort at True North to protect our clients (and to help you protect those around you, whether at home, at work, or in your community), we will be following Center for Disease Control recommended guidelines to minimize the transmission of the COVID-19 virus.  So, among other steps, we will provide hand sanitizer and we will be using face coverings during those times when we are indoors and/or are within six (6) feet of each other.  In turn, all of our wilderness medicine classes have always been small (less than 10 clients) with all portions of the in-person training held outdoors.  We will discuss protocols before your training begins.  If your class needs to be cancelled due to a government mandated stay-at-home order, then your payment will be fully refunded.  Please don’t hesitate to contact us, if you have any health concerns or questions.

What kind of gear do I need to bring?  True North will provide all of the needed training supplies.  You will be asked to purchase a specific text for your preparatory training, which allows you to do so more conveniently and at lower cost.

WEMT Equipment

Course Equipment List – Click to enlarge.

If you would like a better sense of what additional gear that you need to bring on the course, or optional gear to consider, then check out the equipment list that will be included with the course information sheet (just “click” on the image to enlarge) when you register.

However, since one of our course goals is to teach you about various gear, plus offer you a chance to “test drive” it before you buy it, if you don’t have an item, don’t necessarily feel compelled to buy it right away … especially if it’s expensive.  Instead, contact us to see if we can loan you an item or make a recommendation for purchase.

If you have any questions, just contact us.