Wilderness First Responder
(WFR) - 8 days or 5 days + 25 hours independent study

The standard for professional guides, search and rescue team members, and those who travel and play in remote areas, this course prepares students to assess and manage medical problems in isolated and extreme environments. Emphasis is on prolonged care, advanced treatment, environmental problems, evacuations, and leadership.

8-day vs. 5-day + independent study 

You can join either the ‘standard’ WFR course given over 8-days or the ‘5-day WFR’ that includes 25 hours of independent study before the onsite portion. See the '5-day WFR' toggle below for more information on this format.

Boreal River Rescue and Wilderness Medical Associates International (WMA)

For our medical courses, we partner with WMA. WMA has set the standard in wilderness medicine and rescue training for over thirty years. The cutting-edge curriculum is constantly updated by a group of healthcare professionals, has been taught on all 7 continents, and is recognized around the world.


8-day format: Students must be 16 years of age to participate in this course. 16 and 17 year olds must have written proof of parental consent.

'5-day plus Independent Study' format: Students must be 18 years of age or older.


  • Wilderness First Responder (WFR) certification
  • CPR C certification (CPR for adults, children, and infants. Includes AED training)
  • Included materials: Text book, SOAP note booklet, waterproof WMA field guide, case studies work book, notebook (with WMA lecture notes)

What to expect

  • Hands-on training sessions, as well as classroom lecture and discussion.
  • Realistic scenarios with stage blood and simulated wounds to prepare students for backcountry emergencies.
  • Professional, dynamic, and fun instructors who deliver a course that will be one of the best you’ll ever experience.

Topics covered

  • General concepts of wilderness medicine and the Patient Assessment System
  • CPR (adult, child, and infant), AED, and basic life support skills
  • Anatomy and major problems of the respiratory, circulatory, and nervous systems
  • Musculoskeletal injury assessment and splinting
  • Spine injury assessment and management
  • Allergies and anaphylaxis
  • Medical emergencies such as stroke and diabetes
  • Severe asthma wilderness protocol
  • Wound and burn management
  • Wilderness protocol for reducing shoulder dislocations
  • Environmental problems such as hypothermia, heat illnesses, lightning, and drowning
  • Backcountry medicine and toxins, bites, and stings
  • Litters, improvised litters and patient carries
  • Evacuations, decision making, and leadership
  • Medical legal issues
  • And more…

This format includes 25 hours of independent study prior to a 5-day onsite portion. The '5-day WFR' is not an easier course or a shortcut, it covers the same material and meets the same criteria as the 8-day format. It is a good option for those who have the time, discipline, and learning style to adequately cover the didactic material independently. 

Students must register at least 2 weeks before the onsite portion begins and all independent work must be completed and submitted before arrival.

Once registered, students receive the main course text book by mail and the WFR Study Guide by e-mail. Students complete reading, assignments, case studies, and online tests at their own pace.

Online test results are immediately sent to the course instructor and a WMA faculty member for review and feedback.

The 5-day onsite portion can then focus on practical skills, patient assessment drills, and rescue simulations because students arrive already familiar with the theoretical knowledge.

All of our medical courses are intensive; the onsite portion of the 5-day WFR is even more so: expect very full, fast-paced days.


Wilderness Medical Associates InternationalWilderness Medical Associates International is dedicated to the development of remote and practical medicine around the globe. We are medical rescue professionals, researchers, experienced educators, and advocates for healthcare in wilderness contexts. Our curriculum, overseen and continually revised by a committee of medical practitioners and academics, has been taught on all seven continents.

The core curriculum is designed to provide the skills and insight needed to improvise, adapt, and exercise reasonable judgment at any level of medical training. Although the company's roots are in the mountains, deserts, and oceans as the name implies, the training philosophy has proven effective in any setting where access to definitive care is delayed or impossible. The term wilderness context applies just as well to a city whose infrastructure has been destroyed as to a fishing boat off the coast of Alaska.​

Wilderness Medical Associates International annually trains over 8,000 medically and non-medically trained students around the world. Our participants include colleges and universities, medical schools, camps, outdoor adventure companies, rural ambulance services, private industry, and government entities. Wilderness Medical Associates International will train the responders and practitioners needed for medical care in low resource settings, anywhere in the world.

Source: Wilderness Medical Associates International website


We will try to spend as much time as possible outside. Please bring appropriate clothing to be comfortable outdoors for prolonged periods.


  • Current certification cards (for Recertification or WFR-Bridge students)
  • Notebook and pens
  • Day pack or book bag for storing your belongings during class
  • Comfortable footwear for indoors
  • Comfortable clothing for indoors
  • Personal medications
  • Personal hygiene products
  • Bedding, pillow, and towel (for those staying in on site shared accommodation)
  • Synthetic or wool base layers top and bottom
  • Synthetic or wool insulation layers
  • Waterproof rain/snow jacket and pants
  • Warm socks
  • Shoes or boots appropriate for weather and rough terrain
  • Toque (warm hat), sun hat
  • Gloves
  • A set of clothing that can be stained and cut during simulations (expect to throw these away)
  • Watch (for taking vital signs)
  • Water bottle or hydration pack
  • Snacks (lots!)
  • Something to sit and lie on outside such as an insulate pad or camp chair
  • Sunscreen and bug repellent
  • Headlamp with extra batteries (for WFR, WFR-Bridge, and Recertification courses)
  • Sunglasses (optional)

Q. What is the daily schedule like on a WMA course?

A. After registering, participants will receive a Student Information Package by e-mail with specific meeting times for their course. Typically class starts at 8:30am and goes to 5:30pm.

On the 5-day WFR, class starts at 8:00am and goes to 6:00pm, with the third day going until 8:00pm.

Q. Are there any prerequisites?

A. For the WFR (8-day), WAFA, and WFA courses, students must be 16 years of age to participate. 16 and 17 year olds must have written proof of parental consent.

For the 5-day WFR, students must be at least 18 years old.

There are no prerequisites for Wilderness First Responder (WFR), Wilderness Advanced First Aid (WAFA), Wilderness First Aid (WFA), or Wilderness First Aid for Field Services (WFA-FS).

For Wilderness First Responder-Bridge (WFR-Bridge) courses students need valid Wilderness Advanced First Aid (WAFA) certification. Please contact the office for approval. You will also need to complete a pre-course reading and assignment package that will be due on the morning of day 1 of the WFR-Bridge course.

For Wilderness First Responder Recertification (WFR Recert) courses students need valid Wilderness First Responder (WFR) certification. Please contact the office for approval. You will also need to complete a pre-course reading and assignment package that will be due on the morning of day 1 of the WFR-Recert course.

Q. How are students assessed and evaluated for certification?

A. Practical assessment is ongoing. There will be a written test on the last day of the course on which students must receive a grade of 80% or higher.

Instructors will do everything they can to accommodate students with different learning styles and needs. Please let us know what we can do to help you succeed.

Q. Is attendance mandatory?

A. Attendance for 100% of class time is mandatory. If you cannot make a session you must get permission from the instructor in advance. Students who miss a section of the course without pre-approval may be asked to leave the course for the sake and safety of the other students.

Q. How long is certification valid for?

A. Your certification is valid for three years from the date of issue.

Q. Is CPR certification included in the course?

A. Yes, students on all courses will receive CPR-A (adult) certification from WMA. Students on WFR, WFR-Bridge, and WFR-Recert courses receive CPR-C (adult, child, infant) certification from WMA.

Q. Can I take the WFR Bridge course or the WFR Recertification course if my current certification is through another provider and not WMA?

A. Yes. Please contact the office for approval.

Q. How do I register for a course?

A. Choose a specific date from the list on each course page or from the calendar. Click “Details/Register” and fill out the Course Booking Form or contact us anytime.

Q. What is the cancellation policy?

A. For cancellations more than 60 days from course start: full refund minus $35 registration fee.  
For cancellations less than 60 days but more than 2 weeks from course start: 50% refund.
For cancellations less than 2 weeks from course start date: no refund.


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Upcoming Courses

"Expectations were high but far exceeded - one of the best instructional courses I have ever experienced. The variety of teaching styles used, the enthusiasm & energy, the expertise - all amazing."

- Frances Garrett - Will be leading students on trekking trip in Nepal

U of T faculty, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
5-day WFR in Montreal, 2015

"Ken was entertaining, knowledgeable, tireless – Awesome. He was always super organized. Overall, I highly enjoyed this course. The social environment and this particular location (the Barn in Wakefield) were unexpectedly wonderful."

- Vanessa Deverell

Canoe trip guide
Wilderness First Responder in Wakefield, QC - 2013