Wilderness Medical Field Protocols:
The following wilderness medical field protocols have been developed for use by appropriately trained individuals that regularly work in remote environments. They are based on the principles taught by Center for Wilderness Safety and are authorized for use in a Wilderness context ONLY, with proper training and certification.
Examples of training may include Wilderness EMT (WEMT), Wilderness First Responder (WFR), Wilderness Advanced First Aid (WAFA), Wilderness First Aid Afloat (WFAA), and Wilderness First Aid (WFA).
Only in the past two centuries or so has civilized medicine been able to eliminate the environmental obstacles to providing care, allowing healers to focus on the medical problems before them.
Aside from the occasional disaster situation, a hospital emergency department is free of wind, rain, rocks, and slope angle. The lights are always on and the temperature is ideal, and the patient’s medical problem is the only issue the staff needs to worry about.
This freedom from wants and fear led to an explosion of medical knowledge and technology. The dramatic influence on morbidity and mortality is evident almost everywhere in the world.
In one of the most effective medical developments of the 20th century, Emergency Medical Services systems have extended some of these sophisticated technologies and procedures to communities far removed from the hospital.
However, while emergency medicine has changed dramatically in recent history, the wilderness has not. In truly wild places, the wind, rain, snow, and rock present just as much of a challenge to the medical provider as it did ten- thousand years ago.
The patient’s medical problem remains just a small part of a much larger environmental picture. The same can be said of urban disasters, combat, and high angle rescue situations in which access to definitive medical care is delayed.
Authorization for use of these protocols is granted to employees of an employer for whom ALL of the following conditions are met:
- The employee is on the job for the above-named employer.
- The transportation time to a hospital exceeds sixty minutes.
- The employee holds a valid and unexpired Wilderness EMT (WEMT), Wilderness First Responder (WFR), Wilderness Advanced First Aid (WAFA), Wilderness First Aid Afloat (WFAA) or Wilderness First Aid (WFA) certification from Center for Wilderness Safety, and the employee follows the materials, skills and protocols learned in their course. WAFA and WFA/A certified employees may only use protocols 1, 2, 4 and 6. WFR and WEMTs may use all 6.
The above specified protocols have been authorized for use by Center for Wilderness Safety for WEMT, WFR, WAFA, WFAA and WFA trained employees of the employer named here, provided they meet the requirements of the authorization criteria listed below.
Important Note: This document is not designed to be used as a reference for wilderness medical providers. Providers should refer to their original course textbooks for complete information on the use of these protocols.
Additional protocols available at www.wms.org.