How Not to Die in the Woods: Wilderness First Aid Training with TerraMar Adventures

I spent this past weekend with twelve friends, eleven of them TerraMar Adventures guides, getting Wilderness First Aid certified. It was a re-certification for most of the group, but for a few of us, it was our first time taking the class. 

As TerraMar guides, we are required to complete WFA training before we are allowed to lead any trips on our own, specifically hikes, to ensure the safety of our members. Most members find TerraMar via meetup.com, and we are the only Philadelphia-based outdoor adventure group to require WFA certification for all of the guides. And we all know that WFA training can't guarantee nothing will happen on any of our trips, but it can help ensure that if something does, each guide is prepared to handle it.

It also helped me better understand precautionary measures to take before we even leave the trailhead. We all practiced writing pre-hike leader speeches that encompassed what we learned about pre-trip preparations last fall, but this class reinforced the need to make sure we've done our homework. Although it might seem tedious to ask every hiker to fill out an index card with their medical history and current meds, it could help us help them if anything happens. Our instructor, Ryan, from the Hawk Mountain Ranger Training School, had interesting stories and helpful recommendations when we brought up specific issues we've had during past events.

WFA training was almost a rite of passage for me. As soon as the certification cards come in the mail, I'll officially be able to lead group hikes by myself, and feel better knowing I'm equipped with enough knowledge to respond to problems on the trail. Thinking about every possible thing that could happen on the trail will make you crazy, but preparedness is invaluable. While in the Adirondacks two weeks ago, I was definitely concerned about hypothermia and potential ankle injuries on the trail during our Mt. Marcy hike. Now that I've learned more about how to handle those situations, I definitely feel more prepared should I encounter those issues.

Have you taken Wilderness First Aid training, or other types of training to help you stay safe outdoors? Leave a comment!

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