Conventional First Aid and EMT curricula are designed for an urban environment, and assume availability of 911 communications as well as rapid transport to a hospital. Backcountry outfitters and experiential educators have found the conventional medical protocols do not address the specialized wilderness context of delayed rescue transport in remote areas, prolonged exposure to severe environments, and the limited availability of medical equipment.
This is where wilderness medical protocols come into play: a comprehensive list of skills and techniques that may only be done in a wilderness or austere setting, signed off by an organization's medical director (a physician).
The following wilderness medical protocols are based on the principles taught by Center for Wilderness Safety in Wilderness EMT, Wilderness First Responder, Wilderness Advanced First Aid and Wilderness First Aid (including WFA Afloat) courses. Organizations such as the American Camp Association, Boy Scouts of America, American Canoe Association, and the Wilderness Medical Society all recognize these protocols up to the level of training of the care provider.
These wilderness medical protocols have been developed for use by appropriately trained individuals that regularly work in remote environments, and under the auspices of an organization whose medical director has signed off on these protocols. Not all organizations authorize their members to perform all wilderness medical protocols, and each level of wilderness medicine certification may only do certain protocols due to the level of their training.
Last Updated: Nov. 2019
These protocols were written by Jeffrey Isaac, PA-C (of Wilderness Medical Associates International) and have been edited and authorized by the executive medical and curriculum directors Kathryn Vaughn, MD, FAWM & Jennifer Kay, RN, BNS, CCRC, CCRP, WALS, for use by Center for Wilderness Safety, Inc.