Wilderness First Responder


If you are finally ready to jump in and take your first aid training to the next level, then our Wilderness First Responder certification course will provide you the skills and knowledge that is the standard for outdoor guides, camp staff, park rangers, search-and-rescue crews, and other folks who work or play in remote or austere environments.  Better yet, our course is run as a 5-day format, often over two successive weekends.

Our WFR course will teach you the fundamentals of dealing with an illness or traumatic injury in wilderness locations where access to definitive medical care is prevented or delayed.  Just as importantly, we structure our WFR course to meet the demands of our student’s busy schedules since we realize that you very often have enough going on in your hectic lives without having to plan for the 10-day formats of traditional WFR courses.  So not only will you learn from practicing EMS professionals, with years of outdoors experience, you will save time and money.

Our WFR course is unique because our certification is recognized nationally by a wide variety of well respected organizations.  It is recognized by the Boy Scouts of America, the American Camp Association, and used by numerous state and federal agencies like the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Coast Guard, and U.S. Forest Service.  That’s because as an authorized American Safety & Health Institute training center, our training meets the requirements of various regulatory agencies and occupational licensing boards like the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT).

Our WFR course covers the same core curriculum of the standard format, but we task you with completing approximately 30 hours of preparatory work. This way, you’ll be ready to jump right into the material as you arrive for your five day stay with our instructors.  Upon completion of your registration, we’ll send you all of the applicable details, like books, assignments, and outlines.


WFR training scenario.

During the your WFR training, you will learn the dynamics of providing wilderness medical care.  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 learn about basic anatomy and important physical systems.  From there, you will learn the patient assessment algorithm that is the framework of all emergency care, from the first-responder to the paramedic.  You will learn how to deal with traumatic injuries, like sprains, fractures, wounds, burns, and spinal cord injury management.  Also, you will learn to deal with illness, including heat and cold related, asthma, and allergic reactions.  In turn, you will learn also learn and practice patient packaging and transport skills.

Have no fear, though! … You won’t just be learning this material while seated at a desk, but you will also be learning as you treat your many “patients” throughout the program.  That’s because at True North we want you to learn by doing as much as possible.


Here are the course basics:

  • Course Duration:  50 hours classroom + 30 hours pre-course preparation
  • Timeframe: Monday through Friday; or Saturday-Sunday followed by Friday-Sunday (Please see below for upcoming class dates and locations).
  • Start / End Times: 8:00 – 6:00 each day
  • Tuition:  $650
  • Maximum Group Size:  10
  • Location: Harrison Hills County Park (roughly a 20 minute drive from Downtown Pittsburgh).
  • Certification Length:  Two (2) years
  • Minimum Age:  18
  • 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 and when will the course be held?  We try to hold our courses in locations that are not only convenient for you, but offer you a proper setting for learning.  Our primary training sites are BSA Camp Guyasuta and Harrison Hills County Park, both just short drives from Downtown Pittsburgh.  These locations offer ample parking and easy access to great stores, hotels, and restaurants.  The following is the location and timeframe of the next class:

  • Harrison Hills County Park: September 11-12 & September 17-19.

What about the preparatory work?  Soon after you register for this course, you will be sent the program details, which will include a syllabus to guide you and a textbook for you to purchase (This will allow you the opportunity to obtain it faster and at less expense).  You will be tasked with being prepared at the onset of the first class.

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  BSA Camp Guyasuta location allows overnight stays 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).  Please keep in mind that due to the current COVID pandemic, we are not running this course with any overnight accommodation.

Does this course include CPR/AED training?  This course includes Healthcare Provider CPR certification as an authorized American Heart Association training center.

Do you offer classes for private groups?  Yes!  While we offer open registration courses, most of our WFR courses are set up and run for private groups, like camp staff, colleges, and park rangers.  The benefits include personalized training, tailored for specific needs, and which can be run at your location or ours.

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 within six (6) feet of each other.  In turn, all of our wilderness medicine classes are being held entirely 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.

WFA Equipment

Equipment List – Click to enlarge.

What kind of gear do I need to bring?  True North will provide all of the needed training supplies, but if you would like a better sense of what additional gear that you will 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.

When you register, we will send you the information for the required texts that you will need to prepare for the program and use during it.

Do you provide WFR Review classes?  Yes!  Like any skill, WFR is what psychologists describe as “perishable” … That is, either you “use it, or loose it.” So, even though the certification length is generally 2-years at any school nationally, most clients can attest that, unless they have periodically reviewed and practiced, their memory has “rusted” long before then.  That’s why True North periodically offers short WFR Review classes as part of our Workshop series, which is open to anyone regardless of where they received their card.

If you have any other questions, or you would like to learn more, please contact us!

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