Since 2015, Blackwood has sponsored one or more Wilderness Medicine courses each year. We will be offering the next Wilderness Advanced First Aid (WAFA) course on March 12-15, 2023, with our outstanding instructor Tim Graham. Here’s why we think these courses are vital to all outdoor professionals and enthusiasts.



Wilderness Medicine differs from traditional first aid in three respects. First, in remote areas, transport times could measure in hours and days rather than minutes, so many phases of patient care that usually occur in a hospital must be carried out in the field.

Second, severe environments dramatically increase the complexity of any emergency and heighten risks to patients and rescuers alike. Third, limited equipment makes improvisation and resourcefulness essential. Any of these factors can come into play in both remote areas and urban settings (such as after a hurricane).

Classes are fast-paced, with an emphasis on practical skills. Mornings are devoted to lectures, while afternoons are outside, working on everything from stretcher construction to full-scale rescue simulations. These make all the difference in reinforcing and understanding the skills needed in a real emergency.



WAFA is a comprehensive training course that teaches students how to handle medical emergencies when they are in remote areas and miles from help or when contacting emergency services is not possible (such as in a natural disaster). Students leave prepared for situations that involve severe environments, prolonged patient care, and improvised equipment. All Blackwood staff are trained in WAFA. Certifications last for 3 years and include CPR.



Although Blackwood Land is within 20 minutes of EMS response, seconds and minutes count in an emergency. It is imperative our staff be prepared for a variety of urgent situations, from minor first aid to major trauma, and act promptly in a calm, safe manner before first responders arrive.

Occasionally we go on field trips to state parks or nature preserves that may not be within 20 minutes of emergency services. WAFA training goes the extra mile to keep our staff prepared and our campers safe.

Not only is WAFA more comprehensive than basic first aid, but it also teaches the critical skill of problem-solving during an emergency. Being able to adapt and stay calm in intense situations can make all the difference.

“But you have to be 16 to take WAFA!” Even if camp staff are not yet 16, starting this year, all Counselors-in-Training and Counselors will participate in a one-day wilderness emergency preparedness training to learn the basics and feel comfortable with roles and procedures in the event of an emergency.



Outdoor Enthusiasts/Parents: If you hike, camp, raft, climb, swim, bike, or visit remote areas – this course is for you.

Outdoor Professionals: Do you lead adventure trips, a scout group, or work at a summer camp? This course is for you.

Teachers: If you lead outdoor field trips or activities – this course is for you.

Mission Groups: If you go on mission trips to areas that don’t have reliable emergency services – this course is for you.


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