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Wilderness Medicine Field Course and First Responder Certification: 3 Day Course

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Wilderrness Medicine Field Course and Wilderness First Responder Certification!

"Dr. Ellen Smith is the developer and lead instructor of the Wilderness Medicine Field Course and an emergency and trauma physician with over 20 years experience practicing emergency medicine. She is also an avid outdoor enthusiast. Combining her passion for emergency medicine and her love of adventure sports led to the development of the Wilderness Medicine Field Course. Originally designed to teach medical students how to apply and adapt emergency patient assessment, diagnosis, treatment and procedures to the outdoor environment, the course has evolved to include adventure racers, hikers, tri-athletes, rock climbers, paddlers, hikers, mountain bikers, backpackers, nurses, physician assistants, athletic trainers, police officers, paramedics, EMT’s, outdoor enthusiasts, interested high school students and retirees interested in outdoor medicine and safety. Whether you desire to become a race/expedition doctor or medical staff, acquire CME credit in a unique fun way, become certified to work as an outdoor guide such as expedition guide, go on a multi-day trekking journey, or just ensure safety for your trip, the WMFC will be an important part of your outdoor/medical education.

Am I Well-Conditioned Enough For This Course?

Dr. Ellen says "I have taught students as young as 11 and a student age 71 both did well and enjoyed the course. If you are not in "shape" we will not ditch you in the woods or lake!!

Ideally, the participant should be able to handle a woodsy brisk hike, ride a bike well, and be able to swim. (Life jackets will be worn and are mandatory in the water portions.) If not, the student may watch any portion he/she are not comfortable with. No prior experience is needed with the rock climbing rescue. There is a good deal of stopping and explaining as we go along so the less fit can catch their breath"

Click Here for the Website for This Course! (

What is the Schedule?

Outdoor Day 1 (Friday) is spent in the woods of Damascus, MD along the Patuxent River. 6-7 miles of hiking thru thick forest and stream crossings, working on survival skills and medical skills in this environment. Skills learn include: fire making, water purification, navigation, orienteering, deep water jumping, shelter building, survival strategy, hydration and nutrition, hypo and hyperthermia, medical concerns, medical kit, appropriate woods meds, clothes and gear, safety, self defense, canines and equines, pediatrics, orthopedics all disciplines of outdoor medicine, litter making, evacuation planning. This year’s Friday afternoon lectures will be in the Station 13 Damascus Fire Department lounge and all station personnel invited. Dinner from local restaurant food take out while we listen to lecture.

Outdoor Day 2 (Saturday) is climbing orienteering and mountain biking. Skills learn include ropes training and high angle rescue rappel, belay, top rope, 3:1 pulley, self evacuation, aid to fallen climber, rope and gear teaching, ascender use, prusik use, quick draws, solo top roping and safety, and knots on rope and web, setting anchors. The “O“ course involves 3-4 miles of decision making and finding checkpoints that contain challenges. We also go to the mountain bike course to learn technique: mountain bike handling, jumping, climbing, downhill, falls, maintenance, use as race medic or doc, and adventure racing and patient trauma scenarios. Dinner is typically at the campfire site – Little Bennett Park.

Outdoor Day 3 (Sunday) is typically, swift water rescue in the Potomac River including: swimmers position, strainer approach, throw bag handling and self evacuation, foot entrapment scenarios, boat rescue, kayaking, forward and sweep and back paddling, Z drag set up, and re entry to overturned boat.

For the large rescue challenge test the students put it all together: There will be a large team rescue to perform including mapping UTM coordinates, tracking and navigating, orienteering to find a victim whether by boat, bike or on foot. They have to determine the medical needs of the victim, warm, dry and hydrate the victim, address injuries--splinting or communications, evacuate the victim and go on to the next victim. There will typically be 4- 6 checkpoints (victims). The teams to rescue victims will have a mixture of med students and racers and volunteers so the student will have a chance to learn from others as well as rely on their own newly acquired skills. There will be a post test and a brief after event discussion to wrap up.

Contact Dr. Ellen for Pricing and Registration!

Dr. Ellen: 301-524-6911 or e-mail at