WFR Course: Reflections of a Student

Staying safe in the wilderness for real.

I am sitting outside the Landmark Learning classroom in Cullowhee, NC on a warm and sunny December afternoon. My cohort is a mixed group of individuals from all parts of the country (think as far as Iowa and Pennsylvania), coming from different backgrounds, all here to learn about safety in wilderness. I’ve had some fairly moderate and technical experience in the outdoors when I went on a mountaineering expedition in Patagonia, Chile. But with more time in the outdoors, the one habit I need to ingrain is safety - my own and that of others.

My WFR course at Landmark Learning is giving me just that - the tools to administer wilderness medicine in case of a medical emergency.

The instructors for this course are Rob and Dan. A great pair with significant training and work experience in backcountry, the military and internationally. Taking a 9 day course that goes to 8am - 5pm can get to you after a while, but out here in Cullowhee, our instructors make the learning interesting and real. We learn and then we practice emergency scenarios in our camp setting. Repeat. The in-class learning is as fun as the learning outside. The more rescue scenarios I practice, the safer I know I am in the wild. The facilities provide the right balance of the outdoors, while being only 20 minutes from the nearest town.

With a background in computers and now a business school grad student, I am the individual who’s most likely to be rescued, rather than being a rescuer; but with the WFR (hopefully) that won’t be the case going forward. Day 9, exam day, gets closer; I feel I am prepared, but I still need to go the extra mile, just as the outdoor medics do so in their everyday lives.