Evidence-Based Review of Wilderness First Aid Practices


  • Tod Schimelpfenig NOLS Wilderness Medicine Institute
  • David E. Johnson Department of Emergency Medicine, Central Maine Medical Center
  • Grant S. Lipman Department of Emergency Medicine, Stanford University School of Medicine
  • David H. McEvoy Aerie Backcountry Medicine
  • Brad L. Bennett F. Edward Hébert School of Medicine, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences




wilderness first aid, lay person, assessment, treatment, evacuation


Wilderness First Aid is a common certification for outdoor recreationists, educators, and trip leaders. A panel of educators, researchers, and clinicians evaluated 15 core and eight elective WFA practices for strength of recommendations based on the quality of supporting evidence and balance between the benefits and risks/burdens according to the methodology stipulated by the American College of Chest Physicians. The strength of the evidence for these 23 WFA practices varies widely because of scant published research to date. When no evidence existed, the panel based recommendations on a consensus of the panelists for risk/benefit and best practices. This review clearly points out the need for conducting greater research to strengthen the level of evidence in numerous WFA topics and for educational strategies that improve retention of core knowledge, as well as skill application for the lay first aid provider.Subscribe to JOREL

Author Biographies

Tod Schimelpfenig, NOLS Wilderness Medicine Institute

Fellow of the Academy of Wilderness MedicineNational Outdoor Leadership School Wilderness Medicine Institute

David E. Johnson, Department of Emergency Medicine, Central Maine Medical Center

Fellow of the American College of Emergency PhysiciansDepartment of Emergency Medicine, Central Maine Medical Center

Grant S. Lipman, Department of Emergency Medicine, Stanford University School of Medicine

Fellow of the Academy of Wilderness MedicineFellow of the American College of Emergency PhysiciansDepartment of Emergency Medicine, Stanford University School of Medicine

David H. McEvoy, Aerie Backcountry Medicine

Critical Care Emergency Medical Technician - ParamedicAerie Backcountry Medicine

Brad L. Bennett, F. Edward Hébert School of Medicine, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences

Fellow of the Academy of Wilderness MedicineMilitary & Emergency Medicine DepartmentF. Edward Hébert School of Medicine, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences


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