So you have your perfectly wrapped & sealed pocket first aid kit, there is a forest of raw materials around you, there was that CPR class years ago and suddenly none of it matters when you are listening to your buddy moan all night in his tent with stomach cramps or looking at a forearm that seems to have a new bend in it. Who needs air transport? How do you wrap up that arm? These questions and more can be dealt with once you have the voices of Pete & Marc your Wilderness First Responder Instructors firmly planted in your brain.


If you can’t get to the Flagstaff Field Institute for Wilderness Medical Training for the great work put on by Pete Waka and Marc Yeston, please go somewhere and get whatever level of Wilderness Medical Training you can. It just might make the difference for yourself or another.


Recently I had the pleasure of joining 27 other folks for classroom and outdoor scenarios at the Museum of Northern Arizona. This location was used by the Flagstaff Field Institute to teach our WUMP class (Wilderness Upgrade for Medical Professionals) which depending on if you are an EMT (success equaled Wilderness EMT status) or RN, PA, MD (success equaled Wilderness First Responder) the class could grant continuing education credits or college credits. The class was very well balanced in experience and the group could have a laugh and yet refocus quickly.


Pete & Marc teach the Wilderness Medical Institute (WMI) curriculum from the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) and with the personal experience and easy going style you are bless with hardy any PowerPoint slideshows and lots of hands on practice time.

So what can you expect to learn, well there will be a few things that stick with you like:

Hold the Head, Sling & Swath, Splints, Wound Care, Sling & Swath, Hold the Head, Wash your hands, and Hold the Head, Gear, Sling & Swath, Trade your SAM splint for a few more elastic wraps.

But seriously the format covers the important things you will need to know while in the backcountry and most important to me you will get the concepts of who can stay and who must go (and how quickly they need to go).


For me as a RN in a major metropolitan hospital with ample resources and persons to call on the backcountry is an unknown entity. The WUMP experience was a very nice mix of just enough classroom discussion to enable us to get outdoors and practice on eat other. Skills like immediate spinal immobilization and splint crafting are not within my daily routine and I liked the stress placed on fundamental assessments. The fact that “time” can work for and against me in the backcountry and how to handle long term patient care concerns where also strong points. Of course pulling it all together in a night exercise with snow on the ground and a couple of surprise patients (1 was the #2 surprise) forced the small groups to really work as teams and manage the situation in real life conditions.

I can always tell if something has been of value to me by the effect it has afterwards. In this case I came home the night after the finals and completely revamped my daypack, my in vehicle trauma bag and have mentioned my changes to others as the subject of the class comes up. Just in case you are curious I have kept my SAM splint but I have now carry 3 elastic wrap rolls, an irrigation syringe, extra large bandanas and cloth tape.

I would highly recommend the team of Pete & Marc at the Flagstaff Field Institute or any Wilderness Medical Training you can get near you, from First Aid to EMT please just be prepared.