Wilderness First Aid

Wilderness First Aid (WFA) certification provides the basic level of first aid training where you will learn the fundamentals of dealing with an illness or injury in the outdoors, or anywhere access to EMS and a hospital is delayed.


This course is approved for Medical / Trauma continuing-education hours for EMR, EMT, Medic, PHRN. See below for details.

No matter your current skill or experience level, WFA is the perfect course for anyone who recreates or works outdoors, or who simply wants to be prepared for an emergency anywhere, anytime.  So while many of our students include hikers, hunters, and paddlers, we also train park rangers, EMS providers and law enforcement.  Basically, our students come to us because they know that if they, or someone else, gets hurt or sick, help or backup won’t necessarily be around the corner.  This is why WFA is widely considered to be the minimum training required for those who spend time or lead groups in the outdoors.

Approved WFA Course

Our WFA program is unique for many reasons.  True North is an authorized American Safety & Health Institute (ASHI) training center and is accredited by the the Pennsylvania Department of Health which means that our program meets the requirements of the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT), many federal agencies like the Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Forest Service, and is approved by the Boy Scouts of America and American Camp Association.  Also, our class sizes are small, usually around 10 students, which ensures that you’ll receive personalized instruction that will meet your specific needs.  Most importantly, our instructors not only have real wilderness experience, but are experienced professional emergency medical providers.  This gives True North the ability to train you to explore, protect, and lead with confidence.


Staff training at YMCA of the Pines, Medford, NJ

During the WFA course, you will learn the dynamics of providing wilderness medical care.  You will start by understanding the importance of scene safety so that you can not only better protect your patient, but yourself as well.  Then you will learn the patient assessment protocol which is the framework of all emergency care, from the first-aider to the paramedic.  From there, you will learn how to deal with traumatic injuries, like fractures, wounds, burns, and how to manage shock, as well as how to deal with spinal injuries. You will also learn to deal with illness, including heat and cold related, asthma, and allergic reactions.  Best of all, you won’t just be learning while seated at a desk, but also by treating your many “patients” during many training scenarios throughout your course.  Much of these skill sessions are conducted outdoors — just like you would find it in an actual situation — to provide you a more realistic sense of what is involved.  That’s because at True North, we want you to learn by doing as much as possible.

Here are the course basics:

  • Course Duration:  16 hours
  • Tuition:  $245
  • Course Limit:  10 students
  • Start / End Times: Various … Though usually 8:00 until 5:00.
  • Location: Various locations … See below for more information.
  • Certification Length:  Two (2) years
  • Minimum Age:  16 years old … See below for more information.
  • Minimum Group Size:  5 students
  • Continuing-Education Hours:  For pre-hospital providers, the Pennsylvania Department of Health has approved this course for 15 credits for EMR, EMT, Paramedic, and PHRN.


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.

NJ DoHThrough 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:

Do we run WFA as a private course?  Yes!  While True North offers many open registration courses, most of our WFA events are run for private groups. So we regularly work with Boy Scout troops, state and county parks departments, YMCA camp staff, and church youth groups.  The many benefits include personalized training which can be tailored to your specific needs.  We can do this by structuring the program in a variety of time formats, or running it in various locations, either your location or ours.  To learn more, just contact us.

What is the minimum age to participate?  Children 16-17 years old are welcome when accompanied by a parent or guardian, or as part of an organized group.

Does this course include CPR/AED training?  This course does not generally include CPR/AED certification, but as an authorized American Heart Association training center, True North can certainly work with you or your group to include it or provide it separately.  To learn more, check out our CPR/AED program, or simply contact us.

Where will the course be held?  We try to hold our courses in locations that not only offer you a proper setting for learning, but also take into account such elements as easy access, ample parking, sleeping accommodations, a local business district, while also helping you to stay within budget.  Our upcoming courses locations are as follows:

  • February 8-9, 2020: BSA Camp Guyasuta, Sharpsburg, PA
  • February 22 and 29, 2020: Parkwood United Presbyterian Church, Allison Park, PA
  • June 6-7, 2020: BSA Camp Guyasuta, Sharpsburg, PA

Where can you stay overnight?  Many of our clients travel a distance to attend this course so we want to make your stay as easy and as comfortable as possible.  Certainly you can stay in a local hotel, but our sites typically allow overnight stays (like BSA Camp Guyasuta), giving you the choice of a bunk, or sleeping outside in a tent, with access to toilets, a kitchen, and hot showers.  The cost is an additional $25 a night.

What kind of gear do I need to bring?  True North will provide all of the needed training supplies.  There is no required text for this course.

WFA Equipment

Wilderness First Aid – Equipment List

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.

Why should a medical professional, like a Medic, Nurse, or Physician, take a WFA course?  In some ways, you will find the training and issues very similar to what you see in your front-country patients, but in most other respects you will find it vastly different.  First, you will be learning to deal with issues that you typically won’t find in an urban environment, like snake bites, moderate to severe hypothermia, and lightening strikes.  Also, wilderness medical care typically requires 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 WFA, you may need to care for your patient for hours, maybe even even days … all by yourself.

Do you provider WFA Refresher training?  Yes!  Check out our current list of WFA / WFR Refresher Training courses.

To learn more, just contact us.