Wilderness First Responder

Wilderness First Responder Course Information 2024/25

Sponsored by UC Santa Cruz Adventure Rec and NOLS Wilderness Medicine 

The Wilderness First Responder course is essential if you work or recreate in the outdoors or in other austere environments where access to medical care is delayed or communication is unreliable. It is the industry standard for professional guides, trip leaders, search and rescue team members, outdoor recreationists, and international travelers. Upon completion, you will be able to conduct a thorough physical exam, obtain a patient history, assess vital signs, provide emergency care in the wilderness, and make crucial evacuation decisions. During this fast-paced, engaging course, you will spend half your time practicing skills and participating in realistic scenarios, including a full-scale night mock rescue.

NOLS Wilderness Medicine’s nationally recognized curriculum encompasses a wide range of topics including long-term patient care, wound management, selective spine immobilization, reducing dislocations, litter packaging, and epinephrine administration. Dynamic educators who have practiced medicine in both wilderness and urban environments will teach you skills and protocols to step forward in an emergency, and you will finish the intensive 80-hour course with the tools and confidence to manage patients in the backcountry for multiple days.

Upon successful course completion you will earn the following NOLS Wilderness Medicine certifications: Wilderness First Responder, Adult and Child CPR & Airway Management, and Epinephrine Auto-injector.

Register Here

Course Dates Cost Location (subject to change)
Wilderness First Responder F 9/6 - Su 9/15/24 $925 STEV 175
Hybrid Wilderness First Responder Sa 12/14 - W 12/18/24 $925 STEV 175
Hybrid Wilderness First Responder March, 2025 (exact dates TBD)

In general, these classes are held from 8 am - 5 pm (plan to arrive 7:45 am on first day of class). For the non-hybrid WFR, there are 2 evening (Day 3 & 8) sessions and one complete day off (Day 6). 

Course Info:

Hybrid WFR Course Outline

Hybrid WFR Course Overview

WFR Course Outline

WFR Course Overview

Wilderness Medicine Communicable Disease Mitigation Practices



Directions to Campus:

Traveling from San Jose/Bay Area:

Take Highway 880 to Highway 17 South to Santa Cruz. Upon reaching Santa Cruz, take Highway 1 North towards Half Moon Bay. Highway I turns into Mission Street. Travel along Mission and turn right at Bay Street. Bay takes you directly into the Main Entrance (east entrance) of UC Santa Cruz.

Traveling from the South/Monterey Area:

Take Highway 1 North to Santa Cruz, towards Half Moon Bay. Highway 1 turns into Mission Street. Travel along Mission and turn right at Bay Street. Bay takes you directly into the Main Entrance (east entrance) of UC Santa Cruz.



The UCSC campus is nestled in wooded hills above Santa Cruz, therefore finding parking and the classroom will take you more time. Please plan an extra 15-20 minutes to find parking and the classroom.

We recommend parking in the East Remote Lot (104). To pick up a parking permit for the East Remote Lot:

  • The morning of your first day of the course, first stop by the TAPS Sales Office, which is located here directly en route to the course location. The office opens at 7am on weekdays.
  • Mention that you're attending this wilderness medicine course.
  • Provide a photo ID and vehicle registration.
  • The permit costs $33-$37 and will cover your parking for the duration of the course.

Here is information on Free Parking options.



Check in is at 7:45 a.m. on the first day of the course. Course days run from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., with two additional evening sessions. Ten-day courses will include one day off. The class format is classroom lectures integrated with practical scenarios, case studies, and skills practice sessions. Attendance is required at all classes.

Scenarios and practice sessions will take place both inside and outside. Bring outdoor clothing appropriate for lying on the potentially wet, snowy, or cold ground playing the role of both rescuer and patient. Frequently stage (moulage) blood and make-up are used to enhance the realism of a scenario. The classroom environment generally lends itself to a pair of comfy shoes or slippers and a camp chair. A 4-hour evening, outdoor mock rescue is part of the curriculum; dress accordingly.

Packing Checklist:

  • Notebook and pencil or pen
  • Watch with second hand or digital second
  • Waterproof outerwear top and bottoms
  • Clothing layers that allow you to be comfortable in a variety of weather conditions
  • Sunglasses and hat
  • Light hiking boots or sturdy shoes
  • Water bottle, snack, and lunch (IMPORTANT NOTE: there are limited food options on campus near the course, please plan accordingly)
  • Light daypack
  • Slippers or comfortable shoes for classroom time (optional)
  • Camp chair for classroom time (optional)



Here is the full WFR course outline.



Tuition payment in full is required to reserve your spot in the course. Tuition is non-transferable. The tuition fee covers textbooks, syllabus, equipment and certification cards. NOLS is not obligated to allow any student to attend a course until all NOLS paperwork has been received, reviewed and approved by NOLS. A full refund will be given if we are forced to cancel the course for any reason.



Any student bringing pets to class will be asked to leave class until the pet is safely situated. No exceptions.





Please download this agreement and read it very carefully as it affects your legal rights.

Bring the two-page signed document to the first day of the course. If you are a minor, a parent or guardian must sign the document. Without a signed document, you cannot participate in the course.

NOLS Wilderness Medicine participants, including minors, will have unsupervised free time throughout the course. Any activities during the free time are not part of the NOLS Wilderness Medicine program and are at the sole risk of the participant. 



EMT Continuing Education

NOLS Wilderness Medicine is proud to be a Commission on Accreditation of Pre-Hospital Continuing Education (CAPCE) accredited organization. Current EMTs are eligible to receive 70 CEU hours at no additional cost for participation in a Wilderness First Responder course. Please bring a photocopy of your current EMT card(s) with you to your course. Please ensure that CAPCE CEUs will be accepted by your State EMS organization.

Fellowship in the Academy of Wilderness Medicine (FAWN)

Through joint sponsorship with the Wilderness Medicine Society active member of WMS may earn up to 55 hours at no additional cost for participation in the Wilderness First Responder course. Learn more about WMS here.

Pre-Course Access to College Credit

To learn more about academic credit for your upcoming NOLS wilderness medicine course, check out NOLS Wilderness Medicine's academic credit page.

On-Course Access to College Credit

The WFR course is pre-approved for three semester hour credits through the University of Utah for an additional cost of $300. If you are interested in receiving college credit, please inquire with your instructors on the first day of class for the necessary information.



We do not provide on site lodging for this course. The following is a partial list of lodging available locally. You can email us for more options or visit the Santa Cruz County Conference & Visitors Bureau at www.santacruz.org

Nearby hotels & campgrounds:

Courtyard by Marriott

Henry Cowell State Park

New Brighton State Beach

Santa Cruz Youth Hostel



We hope this information is helpful. Please contact us with any questions or concerns you may have.

UC Santa Cruz Adventure Rec

Office Hours: Monday - Friday, 9 am - 5 pm Pacific Standard Time.

Phone: (831) 459-2806 or (831) 459-2668

email: adventurerec@ucsc.edu or dsmucker@ucsc.edu

web: https://recreation.ucsc.edu/adventure


NOLS Wilderness Medicine

Office Hours: Monday - Friday, 9 am to 5 pm Mountain Time

Phone: (800) 710-6657

Fax: (307) 332-1242

Email: wilderness_medicine@nols.edu

Website: https://www.nols.edu/en/about/wilderness-medicine/