Frequently Asked Questions

What is the WFAC?

A 3-day, 26-hour, live-in wilderness first aid course

What are the topics and exercises?

See a syllabus for the WFAC.

My friend told me that I have to sign up for the WFAC six months in advance. Is this right?

No, but the WFAC usually fills up in advance of the course. After this, it is possible to enroll and be subsequently accepted off the waitlist. This varies somewhat year-to-year.

Why should I let the course have my fee so far in advance?

The WFAC requires your check at time of application as proof of intent, but cashes it only eight weeks before the course.

Why can’t I sign up first and provide my proof of CPR later?

The WFAC has a very small staff and everyone has many jobs. Providing all your paperwork at once minimizes the clerical work associated with enrollment.

If this is a non-profit course, what does the cost cover?

Your fee covers:

  • Your room (dormitory-style lodging), your food (great meals), skills materials and notes
  • Materials such as stage blood, simulated wounds and makeup for the simulations
  • Visual aid investments to provide a quality experience (a projector and screen, a skeleton and a torso with visible organs, etc.)

None of your course fee goes toward paying staff; they are all volunteers.

Why is this course better than Red Cross Standard First Aid (RCSFA)?

RCSFA is three hours of instruction, mostly lecture and videos, with limited skills practice and no simulations. The WFAC is 26 hours of instruction with nearly 40% of the time spent on skills practice and simulations. Our instructor-to-student ratio is 3 to 4 times better than a RCSFA course, allowing for frequent one-on-one feedback during skills sessions and simulations.

Is CPR a prerequisite?

A CPR card is required to register.

Why isn't CPR included?

Only with difficulty can we fit the essentials of WFA into a three-day course. If we included CPR instruction we would either have to extend the course to four days or drop several hours of important first aid topics.

How does Wilderness First Aid differ from regular first aid?

Wilderness first aid includes:

  • Environmental injuries and illness such as altitude sickness and snow blindness
  • Emphasis on improvising with materials on hand (e.g., tent poles)
  • Training on care of a patient for several days In a slightly larger perspective
  • This is an excellent first aid course for anyone who might be in a situation where first aid is required and where emergency medical services are several hours to a week away, for example:
    • After a major earthquake or flood
    • On a sailboat during an extended voyage
    • In combat during a military operation
    • At remote homesteads located several hours by road or air from emergency services

Is this course better than an on-line first aid course?

Probably the most valuable part of the WFAC is the simulations, including feedback from knowledgeable and experienced instructors. This is not available from an on-line course.

Why are there only two courses offered per year?

The few WFAC staff members are volunteers with jobs, families and other interests. Each three-day WFAC course takes about two months to prepare and another month afterward to tie up loose ends. This means that course staff spends about half of each year maintaining and improving the WFAC, given the two-course-per-year schedule.

Is the 3-day course the only option?

The 3-day course is the only option, unless another option is listed in Courses Offered.

Is the WFAC part of a national organization?

The WFAC is an independent educational non-profit corporation. It is a member of the Wilderness Medical Society. The WFAC issues its own completion certificates, which are recognized by the National Sierra Club, the (Los) Angeles Chapter of the Sierra Club, the Philmont Boy Scout Ranch, and the Orange County High Adventure Training (BSA) program.

The Girl Scout Council of Greater Los Angeles accepts the WFAC completion certificate for Level-2 First Aider and Wilderness First Aid designations.