Question #2: "What is
your level of wilderness medical training?"
Another key qualification is medical training. Because not all
objective hazards of the climbing environment can be managed completely
by even the most competent guide, medical training is essential.
And because most climbing takes place in relatively 'out-of-the-way'
places, medical training should be focused on wilderness medicine
training, not simply training in urban or 'street' emergency medicine.
first level of wilderness medical training is called Wilderness First
Aid (WFA). This is a helpful level of training for the weekend
climber if provided by a first class training organization (e.g. SOLO,
Wilderness Medical Associates, others). However, this level of
training is generally considered substandard for professional guides and
does not meet the minimum requirements to enter most guide training
courses in the U.S..
First Responder (WIFR) is the next level of training and constitutes
the minimum acceptable level of training for professional guides
as determined by the American Mountain Guides Association. Courses
should be at least 70 hours long, and from a reputable organization
(e.g. Stonehearth Open Learning Opportunities (SOLO), Wilderness Medical
Associates (WMA) , Wilderness Medical Institute (WMI), and several
Emergency Medical Technician (WEMT) is the next level of training
and consists of around 120 hours of training including emergency
department rotations, written and practical exams on wilderness
medicine, and registry with the National
Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT) which requires
passing the NREMT written and practical exam stations. Tested skills include
the assessment and management of pre-hospital trauma and medical
emergencies, some drug therapies, basic airway
procedures, and health care provider CPR qualification.
Paramedic/ Wilderness Advanced Life Support (WEMT-P/WALS) is the next
level of medical training that involves a quantum leap forward in
education and scope of medical practice. Where WEMT requires 120
hours of EMT training, paramedic level certification requires up to 1600 hours of training in
Advanced Life Support care. This level of care involves delivering
advanced airway, cardiac, and trauma treatment including hypertonic IV fluid therapy, pharmacologically assisted
intubations, pain control, pleural decompression, wound management, etc.
Advanced Life Support (WALS) is a specialized course for physicians and
other advanced providers to help them better provide advanced medical
care in wilderness settings.