Wilderness First Aid Afloat

Wilderness First Aid Afloat
Wilderness First Aid Afloat - WFAA

This two and a half day Wilderness First Aid Afloat course teaches participants the assessment of, and treatment given to an ill or injured person in a remote and often times, cold, wet environment. In this type of setting, access to definitive care such as a hospital or clinic, as well as emergency transport may delayed for hours or even days. Course participants will learn how to assess, treat, and when possible, prevent medical and traumatic emergencies within the scope of their training – pertaining most specifically to water-related emergencies.

Why Take Wilderness First Aid Afloat?

Time is the essential element distinguishing wilderness first aid from standard first aid. When calling 911 is not an immediate option, or when help could be an hour or even days away, the task of managing the injured and the ill will challenge you beyond basic first-aid knowledge, and require the skills you will learn in this course.

Long hikes, extended lengths of rivers, large expanses of ocean, and miles of asphalt may separate the patient from a medical facility. You may have to endure heat or cold, rain, wind, or darkness.

The equipment needed for treatment and evacuation may have to be improvised from what’s available, and communication with the “outside world” may be limited—or even nonexistent. Remote locations and harsh environments may require creative treatments. All of this comes into play being a wilderness first aider.

Happy Kayaker
U.S. Coast Guard in Action

A U.S. Coast Guard Approved Course

Center for Wilderness Safety’s Wilderness First Aid (CWSINC-314), Wilderness First Aid Afloat (CWSINC-315), and Wilderness First Responder (CWSINC-316) are U.S. Coast Guard approved to satisfy First Aid and CPR training requirements of 46 CFR 11.201(i)(1) for merchant marine licenses.
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Pediatric Emergencies 101

What To Expect

This course is an intensive course which offers a lot of hands-on practice through scenarios, case studies and simulations. Students will constantly be both indoors and outdoors for simulations and practice, regardless of the weather, barring severe inclement weather. Come to class prepared for the weather, as we spend a lot of time outdoors training.

  • General Info
  • Course Outline
  • Qualifications
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Course Length:
25 hours of instruction
Actual course times my vary, and incorporate hands-on scenarios, skills practice & activities.
Course Format:
WFA is typically taught over two and a half consecutive days (typically Friday evening + Sat/Sun).
Typically taught over a FULL weekend; Friday 6–10pm, Saturday 8am–7pm, Sunday 8am–7pm.
Course Tuition:
$235 – $285
Actual course tuition may vary depending on course location, logistics, etc.
Wilderness First Aid Afloat (valid 2 years)
A digital certificate is available upon successful completion of course.
This course is approved by the U.S. Coast Guard.

  • Be at least 14 years of age.**
    **The minimum age requirement to take Wilderness First Aid is 14 by the last day of the course, however younger participants may be allowed to take the course on a case-by-case basis.
  • Current adult + pediatric CPR/AED certification is NOT required, but is strongly recommended.
  • Complete the Two Required Forms (waiver & medical forms) prior to class.**
    **All Prerequisites MUST be completed at least 24 Hours prior to your course start date (if a course starts on Friday, they are due the Thursday before at Noon). Failure to do so will result in not being permitted to attend the course with no refunds.
NOTE: Access to these forms is granted once enrollment is complete.
Recommended For:

This introductory wilderness medicine course is recommended for anyone who spends time on the water; whether it be boating, paddleboarding, kayaking, or even snorkeling! It is strongly recommended for anyone who spends any amount of time in the great outdoors, including "weekend warriors" Scouting and youth program leaders, teachers leading school trips, backcountry guides, canoe & rafting trip guides, private expedition groups, college/university outdoor education programs, hiking club trip leaders, wilderness therapeutic programs, and adventure race safety personnel.

The 25-hour Wilderness First Aid Afloat course includes many advanced topics that other programs leave out such as reduction of dislocations and epinephrine administration. A sample list of topics covered in this course include (but are not limited to):

Airway Emergencies Life-Threatening Conditions
Allergies + Anaphylaxis Lightning Safety
Anatomy + Physiology North American Snakebites
Backcountry + Sudden Illnesses Orthopedic Injuries + Dislocations
Bites + Stings Patient Assessment System
Body Substnce Isolation Patient Care Documentation
Burns + Blisters Risk Management
Chest Injuries Scene Leadership + Control
Cold Related Injuries Shock + ASR
Common OTC Medications Soft Tissue Injuries
CPR in Remote Settings Submersion Emergencies
Epinephrine Auto-Injectors Suspected Spinal Injuries
Evacuation Considerations Tick Safety
Hands-On Practical Simulations Traumatic Brain Injuries
Heat Related Illnesses Venomous Spider Bites
Improvisation / MacGyvering Vital Signs
Introduction to Wilderness Medicine Wilderness First Aid Kits


Valid for two years, our Wilderness First Aid Afloat certification is nationally-recognized by the American Camp Association, Scouts BSA (formerly Boy Scouts of America), U.S. Coast Guard, JCC and many other organizations across the United States and Canada. The certificate earned by taking this course is accepted by Philmont Scout Ranch, Northern Tier, Florida Sea Base, Bechtel Summit, and all other Scouting programs.



Currently, your Wilderness First Aid Afloat certification can only be renewed by taking another Wilderness First Aid Afloat course. Because wilderness medicine is constantly changing as science and medical research make greater and greater strides, there is no "refresher" course for Wilderness First Aid.


Center for Wilderness Safety's Wilderness First Aid Afloat course curriculum changes every several years, as new and improved techniques and science move forward to offer better ways of providing patient care.

Find a Course       Sponsor a Course

If your group or organization is interested in sponsoring a Wilderness First Aid course at your location, simply click the link above. Please note that we are scheduling courses out in advance (late Spring into early Summer) due to COVID-19 precautions.