NOLS: National Outdoor Leadership School Home Request a CatalogContact Us

Wilderness Medicine Institute

WRMC to Host the Acclaimed Author, Laurence Gonzales

Join us at the Wilderness Risk Management Conference (WRMC) as we celebrate our 20th anniversary. The conference seeks to provide practical solutions for challenging issues that face organizations that explore, work, and teach in wild places. This year the conference will be held at Jackson Lake Lodge in the Grand Teton National Park, from Sept. 30 to Oct. 2. The event is co-sponsored by NOLS, the Student Conservation Association, and Outward Bound—three organizations that understand the complexity of running a quality outdoor educational program and provide workshops that meet the needs of industry professionals.

The WRMC provides a professional setting for outdoor educators to share and learn from one another.  Our quality workshops are led by some of the most seasoned veterans in the outdoor education community. They will teach you all about risk management skills, administrative practices, pertinent research, and up-to-date field techniques.  All the while, through our open forum, you can voice your comments, concerns, and questions to help improve the quality of the conference. Among this year’s array of qualified presenters is award-winning author Laurence Gonzales.


Gonzales was born in St. Louis and grew up in Houston and San Antonio. Drawing from the experiences of his father, a World War II pilot who survived against all odds, Gonzales has pursued a career in understanding who survives, who does not, and why. He has authored several books including Deep Survival: Who Lives, Who Dies, and Why and its sequel Surviving Survival: The Art and Science of Resilience. Gonzales has won several awards, including two National Magazine Awards and the Distinguished Service Award from the Society of Professional Journalists.

During his keynote address, Gonzales will address intelligent mistakes: why smart people do stupid things, based on his work for his books Deep Survival and Everyday Survival. His talk will explore the natural functioning of the brain and how, even when we are performing basic tasks, it can lead us in to systematic errors. 

Don’t miss out on this year's opportunity to witness the culmination of twenty years of collaboration between some of the most respected names in Wilderness Risk Management! Come and join the conversation!

Permalink | Posted by Max McQuarrie on Jul 26, 2013 in the following categories: Professional Training, Teton Valley, Wilderness Medicine Institute, Wilderness Risk Management Conference

NOLS to Play Major Roles at Cowboy Tough Adventure Race

Starting Thursday morning in southeastern Wyoming is the Cameco and City of Casper Cowboy Tough Expedition Race. As part of the Rev3 Adventure Race Series, this point-to-point race, starting in Cheyenne and ending in Casper is also a national qualifying race for the North American Adventure Racing Series (NAARS). Teams of two or four people will race through a series of outdoor disciplines including trekking, biking, river travel, rappelling as well as other challenging activities.

NOLS is a major sponsor of the event, providing support in multiple ways. As the racers depart from Cheyenne, NOLS Wilderness Medicine Institute will join the medical crew, bringing the experience of three of WMI’s own WEMTs. Jared Steinman, the NOLS social media coordinator, Travis Welch, WMI’s program and retail store manager, and Greg Flemming, a WMI instructor will all use their training to provide medical attention as needed for the racer. In addition to being there to treat race-related illnesses and injuries, NOLS Wilderness Medicine Institute will provide most of the medical gear.

Screen shot 2013-07-17 at 2.26.42 PM
Brad Christensen photo

A section of the adventure race will be orienteering. NOLS’ own Casey Pikla and Kelly Carlin will manage and oversee this portion as adventure racers go to and from each checkpoint. There are mandatory checkpoints as well as optional checkpoints for time bonuses. Once the race is over, Pikla and Carlin will continue to help by breaking down the orienteering section of the race.

On the other side of the race, NOLS’ own Katie Everson, admission office and Adam Swisher, instructor and curriculum and publications manager, will participate in Cowboy Tough. Everson, with a background in marathons and swimming and Adam, with a history of long -distance adventure races will be strong competitors as Team Wyo.

Team Wyo prepares for the race with a long bike ride.

NOLS will also set up an information booth at the finish line in Casper, Wyo. The booth will host backcountry cooking demonstrations and knot tying lessons. Anyone in Casper for the race is encouraged to stop by the NOLS table for information and demonstrations.

David Anderson photo

“NOLS has been taking people into Wyoming’s backcountry for over 45 years. We’re excited to support an organization and race whose goal is to showcase and raise awareness to Wyoming’s recreational opportunities and wild places,” said Steinman.

While Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks garner most of the natural world attention of Wyoming, it’s important to remind visitors that the entire state is full of natural beauty from the sagebrush plains of the high mountain desert to the craggy peaks of Wind River Mountain Range and into each lush river valley surrounded and contrasted by the arid red rock canyon landscape. 

Permalink | Posted by Mike Casella on Jul 17, 2013 in the following categories: Alumni, In The News, Instructor News, Wilderness Medicine Institute

Backpacks, Fake Blood and Femur Fractures: Wilderness First Responder Course

This post was written by Jeremy Robertson, an Adventure Outings, Chico, CA Staff Member, and participant in last week’s Wilderness First Responder course taught by NOLS Wilderness Medicine Institute.


Adventure Outings staff

"Recently, over a span of 10 days (May 28 – June 6), 30 new Wilderness First Responders (WFR) entered the outdoor world. Adventure Outings hosted its yearly WFR course through the National Outdoor Leadership School’s Wilderness Medicine Institute (NOLS WMI) in Chico.

This 80-hour course takes students through many of the possible first aid situations and solutions that may arise in backcountry or wilderness situations. Throughout the 10-day course, participants spend lots of time learning through scenarios where they practice treating “patients” as if they were truly out in the wilderness; they also get to practice their acting skills as students play the “patients”. Along side the interactive experiential learning, students also spend classroom time taking in the knowledge and information needed to treat patients."

see more...

Permalink | Posted by Leslie van Barselaar on Jun 12, 2013 in the following categories: Wilderness Medicine Institute

Community Relief Medic Course

This is an article in the Wilderness Medical Society magazine by Jon Lowrance, WMI Instructor, about the Community Relief Medic Course offered by NOLS Wilderness Medicine Institute affiliate, Landmark Learning, in Cullowhee, NC. The redesigned Community Relief Medic course is unique in that it focuses the medical training and scenarios to the context of responding to a disaster or assisting in relief medical clinics. The two-day course includes hands-on training in patient assessment, common medical problems and their management, and medical decision-making. The course is appropriate training for medical mission and disaster response teams, local fire, law enforcement and EMS groups, scouting groups and members of the public who wish to be prepared and possibly volunteer when disasters occur.

Landmark Learning

Community Relief Medic Student populations include:

• Current relief workers or people interested in relief work, including mission groups, rescue and construction crews.

• Public safety, law enforcement, and first responder personnel.

• People interested in disaster medicine or those living in areas of frequent natural disaster.

Student Course Outline

Landmark Learning Contact Information

Permalink | Posted by Leslie van Barselaar on Jun 6, 2013 in the following categories: Wilderness Medicine Institute

Rock Rescue and Wrapping Up

As they entered the last week of their semester, the WMR (Whammer) students had a chance to use their skills in a student-led cliff rescue scenario in Sinks Canyon outside of Lander, Wyoming. The exercise involved rappelling to two “victims” on a small ledge, assessing and treating their injuries, and evacuating one with a tandem rappel and the other with a litter lower. This is in preparation for students’ final “graduation” scenario on May 2nd, the last day of their course. This full-day scenario will incorporate skills learned on every section of the course.

WMR Rescue Rappel

Students performing a tandem rappel

The Wilderness Medicine and Rescue Semester is a new course offered for the first time in 2013. It began with a one-month Wilderness EMT course outside of Lander, Wyoming, followed by one month in the canyons of southern Utah, two weeks on the Yampa River, and two weeks of climbing around Lander.  Students will walk away with Wilderness and Urban Emergency Medical Technician, CPR Instructor, Leave No Trace Master, Basic Swiftwater and Rock Rescue certifications. You can read more about the first WMR here and here.

WMR Rescue Rappel_2

Students performing a litter lower


Permalink | Posted by Megan Budge on Apr 29, 2013 in the following categories: Rocky Mountain, Wilderness Medicine Institute

Checking In with the WMR

After weeks of wilderness medicine training, students on the Wilderness Medicine and Rescue Semester (a.k.a. the Whammer!) were ready for another scenario, but they weren’t expecting it to be, well, real. Regardless, when one of their course mates had to be evacuated, students were calm and prepared to help. Unlike their other scenarios, this one ended with a real satellite phone call to the NOLS Evac line. Dave, the evacuated student, attributes the group’s reaction to weeks of commitment, enthusiasm and a willingness to learn. Happily, Dave will be able to rejoin the group within the next week for rock climbing in southern Utah.

WMR_Canyon2Traveling in the slot canyons of southern Utah
Photo by Robin Larson

WMR students have now completed a month long WEMT course and a month in the slot canyons of southern Utah. While in the canyons, students practiced the medical skills they learned on their WEMT and learned the technical and decision-making skills necessary for managing risk during slot canyon travel. By the end of this section, students were able to do a technical entry into a slot canyon, including rappels and pack lowers, on their own while instructors took on the role of silent observers. According to their instructor Anna Gast, they did “phenomenally well.” The canyon section also highlighted a curriculum strong in fundamental wilderness living and travel skills, leadership, teamwork and communication.

WMR_improvised_litterBuilding an improvised litter during a scenario
Photo by Robin Larson

Students are now on the Green River in Utah on the swiftwater rescue and canoe section of their course. The section began with a three-day river rescue seminar on the Yampa River in Colorado led by instructor Nate Ostis. Much of the time was spent in the water learning rescue swimming, throw bag technique, river crossing and mechanical advantage rope systems. The group will practice these skills as they travel down the Green for 12 days while also continuing their wilderness medicine scenarios on a real wilderness expedition.

100_2171Practicing swiftwater rescue skills
Photo by Tod Schimelpfenig

Next up, students are moving on to a CPR Instructors course and finally the rock rescue section. Stay tuned for more information as the first WMR wraps up on May 2nd!

Permalink | Posted by Megan Budge on Apr 9, 2013 in the following categories: Rocky Mountain, Wilderness Medicine Institute

Have You Seen This Man(nequin)?

Mr. Hurt_final

Known as: Mr. Hurt 
Responds to: Well, nothing really.
Work History: 150-lb. mannequin used for WEMT scenarios
Place of Residence: The WMI Gear Room
Hair Color: Golden Beige
Eye Color: Golden Beige
Skin Color: Golden Beige
Distinguishing Characteristics: Adaptable fashion sense, never loses a staring contest, often scripted as the unconscious patient in an emergency scenario, stoic demeanor.
Recently Noted for: His role as a special ops advertising agent for the March Moulage Madness challenge

If you walked into the NOLS Headquarters break room the past few days, you might have seen this dashing fellow as you grabbed your morning coffee or reheated weekend leftovers in the microwave. Despite his tendency to startle unsuspecting employees who haven’t quite made it to the coffee pot yet, the real purpose of his placement is to raise awareness for the recent “March Moulage Madness” challenge posed to the NOLS HQ community.

With the facilitation of every NOLS Wilderness Medicine Institute (WMI) course comes a turnover of supplies, including splints, cravats and stethoscopes. Additionally, every gear set comes with a set of stage makeup and a bag of moulage clothes - the shirts and pants used in course scenarios that involve simulated blood injuries. Rather than subjecting participants' own clothes to a smattering of “arterial bleeds” or trauma shear cuts, WMI provides gently worn clothing for these scenarios.

Makeup_finalMoulage Makeup Kit

In April, May and June, WMI will support over 250 courses ranging widely in length and location. That’s a lot of moulage clothes! To meet this high demand, WMI gathered clothing donations from NOLS HQ staff from March 19-25. Over the next few days, pictures of these high-fashion options, as modeled by your favorite WMI in-town staff, will be posted to the NOLS Wilderness Medicine Institute Facebook page. Staff donors and Facebook page members who “Like” their favorite photos will be eligible to win WMI swag! Prizes and winners will be announced on April 1 (no joke!). The clothes donated for this event will then be shipped off to support the realistic scenarios that are so critical to WMI courses. These scenarios provide our students with the hands-on experience to become competent and confident graduates.

Vote for your favorite moulage look! Visit the WMI Facebook page and while you’re there, tell us about your favorite scenario on your WMI course!

Permalink | Posted by Megan Budge on Mar 27, 2013 in the following categories: Wilderness Medicine Institute

Watch the Wyss Wilderness Medicine Campus video

Completed in the fall of 2012, the Wyss Wilderness Medicine Campus provides classrooms, practice fields, residences and dining facilities for WMI students and instructors. With over twenty years of experience, we know what attributes a state of the art wilderness medicine facility should have, and ours is specifically crafted to aid in the delivery of the very best wilderness medicine training.

Permalink | Posted by NOLS on Mar 22, 2013 in the following categories: Wilderness Medicine Institute, Wyss Wilderness Medicine Campus

Montañismo en Español y Primeros Auxilios al Aire Libre

Hace solo un par de semanas regresaron los alumnos del curso de Montañismo en Español (CMT) quienes estuvieron por 2 semanas aprendiendo habilidades de liderazgo, técnicas de montañismo y mínimo impacto (No Deje Rastro); en el área del Cordón de Melikina.

Fue un gusto contar con representantes de la ciudad de Punta Arenas, Coyhaique y Santiago entre otras. Y como es característico en estas latitudes en nuestros cursos hubo representantes de 3 países diferentes.

Todos se fueron muy contentos pero deseaban que el curso durará más días, y ademas que se realizara en otras zonas el pais.

Por otro lado, finalizaron 2 cursos dirigidos a la Corporación Nacional Forestal (CONAF) en el área de primeros auxilios con WMI. Las personas que participaron se capacitaron fuertemente. 30 fueron los profesionales del área forestal que se capacitaron y aprobaron el Wilderness Advance First Aid (WAFA). A ellos se sumaron 5 particulares provenientes de otras regiones y organizaciones.

Gracias a todos quiénes hicieron de estos cursos una realidad. Esperamos seguir aportando como NOLS Patagonia en la región.

Especial gracias a los alumnos e Instructores por las buenas vibras y estar atento a los detalles.

Búscanos en Facebook!


Foto: Patricia Soto
Foto: Patricia Soto
Foto: Patricia Soto
Foto: Patricia Soto

Recently, students from the Chilean Mountaineering Course (CMT) returned from the field after two weeks learning skills of leadership, mountain techniques, and minimum impact through Leave No Trace; in the area of Cordón Melikina.

It was a pleasure to have representatives from the Chilean cities of Punta Arenas, Coyhaique, and Santiago among others. We also had representation from three different countries!

All left the course very content but wishing the course was longer and could visit other regions of the country, the sign of a good course!

In other news, we have competed two WMI courses for the Corporación Nacional Forestal (CONAF) in the subject of First Aid. The people who participated in the program trained hard to achieve their Wilderness Advanced First Aid (WAFA) certification. 30 professional forest rangers from CONAF passed the course, along with five others from different regions and organizations.

Thank you to everyone who made these courses a reality. We hope to continue contributing to the Aysen region with NOLS Patagonia.

A special thanks to the students and instructors for their attention to details and their good energy throughout the programs.

Like us on Facebook!

Spanish and English translation contribution from Patricia Soto, Mercedes Lagos, and Taylor Feldman

Permalink | Posted by Taylor Feldman on Mar 14, 2013 in the following categories: Patagonia, Wilderness Medicine Institute

Welcoming the Wilderness Medicine and Rescue Semester

February 2nd marked the beginning of the Wilderness Medicine and Rescue Semester. Students spent the first two days of this 90-day adventure in an orientation at the new Wyss Wilderness Medicine Campus outside of Lander, Wyoming. During this time, students laid the groundwork for the community that will be the bedrock of their course.

Learning the NOLS leadership model

The weekend’s activities included team building exercises and an introduction to the NOLS leadership model, during which students and instructors discussed how to create a positive learning environment. Students then had the first of many opportunities to put theory into practice with a GPS navigation field exercise. They also had their first environmental studies class, a theme that will continue throughout their course.

Students practice GPS navigation skills during their orientation.

After the fun-filled weekend, students are hitting the books for their Wilderness EMT course that will go until the beginning of March. From there, they will be off for a month of canyoneering and two weeks each of canoeing and rock climbing in southern Utah. At each turn, students will learn and practice proper expedition and leadership behavior, along with wilderness evacuation, swiftwater rescue, and rock rescue skills. They will walk away with Wilderness and Urban Emergency Medical Technician, CPR Instructor, Leave No Trace Master, Basic Swiftwater and Rock Rescue certifications. Most importantly, however, they will leave with a tight-knit group of friends and a signature NOLS experience.

Does the Wilderness Medicine and Rescue Semester seem right up your alley? There is always next year! Find more information at

Permalink | Posted by Megan Budge on Feb 6, 2013 in the following categories: Rocky Mountain, Wilderness Medicine Institute, Wyss Wilderness Medicine Campus

Home | Courses | WMI | Account | Resources | Alumni | Giving | Store | About Us | Contact Us
NOLS Professional Training | Books | Research | Jobs | Request A Catalog | WRMC | Leave No Trace
Información de NOLS en Español | Privacy Statement | Site Map | Donate Online
Request a Catalog or call 1-800-710-NOLS
NOLS, 284 Lincoln Street, Lander, WY 82520-2848, USA

Copyright © 2014 National Outdoor Leadership School. All rights reserved.
Top of Page
NOLS Home About Us Courses Apply Wilderness Medicine Institute NOLS Professional Training Alumni Store Donate NOLS Home Parents Press Room School Resources Photos NOLS.TV Events WRMC The NOLS Blog