NEW IN 2022
NOLS has redesigned the WFR program to give more online learning and less classroom time.
The new hybrid format begins with three weeks of online learning including readings, videos, and quizzes. You will spend 10 to 15 hours each week in the online portion and be required to finish assignments to progress. You will then complete your course with a 5-day in-person program focusing on skills and scenarios. These are the last 5 days of the listed course dates.

While SMC still sponsors courses, the registration is handled by NOLS not SMC. Please direct all course specific questions to NOLS.

This nationally recognized program trains participants to respond to emergencies in remote settings. The 80-hour curriculum includes standards for urban and extended care situations. Special topics include but are not limited to: wound management and infection, realigning fractures and dislocations, improvised splinting techniques, patient monitoring and long term management problems, up-to-date information on all environmental emergencies, plus advice on drug therapies.

Half of your time will be spent completing practical skills, case studies and scenarios designed to challenge your decision-making abilities. The Heartsaver® BLS Adult CPR is included in the course.

A Wilderness First Responder (WFR) is recognized as the minimum training an outdoor professional should have. Many providers of outdoor programs now require their lead instructors to have this training. Gone are the days of Advanced First Aid courses, 16 to 24 hours in length, being adequate training for the outdoor professional. For those working or playing in the wilderness context, officially defined as “two hours or more from definitive care,” this course is probably more valuable than an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) training since EMT is designed for an entirely different context: it assumes availability of rapid patient transport. WFR training stresses the idea that the most important tool in your first aid kit is your brain and emphasizes improvising tools for evacuation, bandaging, splinting, and long term patient care in remote settings.


Sierra Adventure Center at Bernasconi Ranch in Big Pine. Lodging is not available onsite. We recommend staying at a hotel in Big Pine. Camping or sleeping in vehicles on the property is not permitted.


This course is sponsored by Sierra Mountain Center and provided by The Wilderness Medicine Institute of NOLS. WMI’s goal is to provide the highest quality education and information for the recognition, treatment and prevention of wilderness emergencies. WMI’s teaching philosophy is to emphasize treatment principles and decision-making, not the memorization of lists. Their philosophy centers around the physical and psychological well being of their students and staff. They value the entire experience of a WMI program rather than simply the learning of medicine. WMI’s staff is comprised of professional educators who understand the importance of fun and experience as invaluable learning tools. They feel strongly that a student’s ability to feel confident about themselves and their ability to make decisions is of greater value than text-book medical skills. They emphasize decision-making and employ scenario-based teaching as a complement to lecture style instruction. They believe that this is why their students learn so well and feel confident in employing their newly acquired judgment and skills. Curriculums, overseen and continually revised by a committee of medical practitioners and academics, are taught on all seven continents.
Wilderness Medical Associates International annually trains over 8,000 medically and non-medically trained students around the world. Participants include colleges and universities, medical schools, camps, outdoor adventure companies, rural ambulance services, private industry, and government entities.

Class format

You will spend 10 to 15 hours each week in the online portion and be required to finish assignments to progress and then  complete your course with a 5-day in-person program in the Bishop area focusing on skills and scenarios. These are the last 5 days of the listed course dates.
Upon completion, you will be able to conduct a thorough physical exam, obtain a patient history, assess vital signs, provide emergency care in the wilderness, and make crucial evacuation decisions.
You’ll learn both in the classroom and in outdoor settings regardless of weather, so come prepared for wet, muddy, cold, or hot environments!

COVID-19 Mitigation

  • We have expanded classroom practices  which includes our vaccination policy for all in attendance of the course. Go here for  the  COVID-19 Disclosure

  • We will monitor COVID-19 Community Levels on the CDC website and if masking requirements have been reinstated at course locations based on CDC will implement these.

  • If  the Community Level where you are located has changed to High, we will resume indoor masking. NOLS Wilderness Medicine is still providing KN95 masks on courses.

  • For details, please see the NOLS COVID-19 Practices and Policies.


• Pets are not allowed on site so please leave Sparky at home.

• This course includes 40 hours of online learning and 5 days of in-person class time. Given the online component to this program, the enrollment deadline is three weeks prior to the in-person portion.

• We are often asked if the course materials can be sent ahead of time but this is difficult for us to arrange. There is a formal book that is provided with the course but there are also numerous handouts and the like that are not finalized until very near the course so WMI does not send these course materials to us until just before the program. You will be updated during the online portion of the program.