Students practice moving a patient to a safer location to receive care. (Photo by Justin Alexandre/NOLS)

Preparing for emergencies

As more people flock to the mountains for rock climbing, hiking, camping, highlining and more, responsible adventurers and trip leaders are preparing themselves for emergencies that may happen when they’re out of ambulance range.

NOLS, a nonprofit wilderness school, has been running wilderness medicine courses in Boulder for more than 20 years, and they’ve seen a dramatic increase in participation. From 1999 to 2002, they trained about 50 students per year in Boulder. Now it’s closer to 700.

NOLS communications manager Sophie Komornicki attributes this to the community of adventurers in Boulder. “Outdoor recreation is a major economic driver there, and many individuals choose to pursue careers in those fields,” she says. “We have also seen state and federal land managers, researchers and geologists take our WFR [Wilderness First Responder] courses to be better prepared for scenarios in the field.”

Professionals and committed adventurers shell out around $800 for the full 10-day WFR certification, whereas casual outdoor enthusiasts usually opt for the less intense (and less expensive) two-day Wilderness First Aid courses.