Wilderness Advanced Life Support

Wilderness Advanced Life Support

The Wilderness Advanced Life Support (WALS®) is Wilderness Medical Associates’ most advanced level course. Our 4.5 day (36 hr) course is open to certified or licensed advanced level medical practitioners involved in rescue, mass casualty, and remote outdoor environments or urban areas in crisis. This constantly-evolving course is highlighted by discussions of new and controversial ideas and the appropriate application of technologies; and we test some of these in the field. The learning environment is challenging, stimulating and fun. Category 1 CME credits for physicians and physician assistants, CEUs for paramedics and Contact Hours for nurses are available. This activity is also eligible for credits toward Fellowship in the Wilderness Medical Society’s Academy of Wilderness Medicine.

The WALS program is constantly evolving and we plan to keep it that way. Instructors and students are encouraged to discuss new and controversial material, perspectives, and techniques. For the experienced practitioner WALS provides a well-rounded exposure to the challenge of providing advanced medical care in a difficult environment. You can look forward to a fun and stimulating five days.

A significant portion of the course will be outdoors. The practical sessions will not be dangerous or overly strenuous, but participants should be prepared to deal with uneven terrain and mountain weather. Technical rock and rescue skills are not required.

Current certification or licensure as an EMT-I, Paramedic, RN, NP, PA, MD, or DO is a prerequisite for admission. Other medical providers will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Instructors: David Johnson, MD, Jeffrey Isaac, PA-C, Erik Forsythe WEMT-P

Class Format

This 36-hour, 4-1/2 day long course focuses on wilderness and rescue medicine for advanced level practitioners. Upon receipt of a course roster from the sponsor, pre-course Study Guides will be mailed to students two to four weeks prior to the first day of the course.Each participant is asked to take an on-line pretest and complete case study assignments prior to the beginning of the course. Generally the mornings are devoted to homework review and lectures while the afternoons focus on skill stations and patient scenarios. Skill labs include basic and advanced airway techniques and equipment, cardiovascular emergencies, and wound management. There will be videotaped scenarios using moulaged patients; one of these is done at night.


All teaching materials are provided by Wilderness Medical Associates at no additional cost. This includes a book of lecture handouts, our case study workbook, SOAP notes, our textbook, Wilderness and Rescue Medicine and The Wilderness Medical Associates Field Guide.

Completion and Grades

Certification requires 100% attendance, satisfactorily completing all homework assignments, course participation in all didactic and practical components including simulations, and the final examination. Wilderness Medical Associates is committed to making reasonable accommodation to any student with special needs.

Certification and CEUs Available

All participants who successfully complete the WALS® course will receive a certification card from Wilderness Medical Associates.

Thirty-six hours of AMA Category I CME credit is included for physicians and physician assistants. Hours may also be logged toward the Wilderness Medical Society’s Fellowship Curriculum. For paramedics and intermediates, this course is approved for 36 continuing education hours by the Continuing Education Coordinating Board for Emergency Medical Services. Nurses will receive 36 contact hours through Central Maine Healthcare, an approved of continuing education activity by ANA-Maine, an accredited approver by the American Nurses Credentialing Center’s Commission on Accreditation.


David Johnson, MD

Dr. Johnson is a board-certified emergency physician and President and Medical Director of Wilderness Medical Associates, Inc. His participation in trans-Atlantic sailing expeditions and numerous treks in North and South America, coupled with 30 years in urban and rural emergency medicine, have given him a broad base of experience in patient care in difficult and demanding situations.

Dr. Johnson is a frequent conference presenter and author, and has taught all levels of EMS and wilderness medicine courses throughout the US, and in some of the more far-flung corners of the world. He is co-author of Wilderness and Rescue Medicine, A Practical Guide for the Basic and Advanced Practitioner, used as a textbook in WMA courses worldwide. He has been recognized by Outward Bound USA with the McGory Award for outstanding contributions to experiential education. He is well known for his low-key teaching style and exceptional ability to relate complex medical issues to the elemental principles of wilderness medicine. He is also known for being firmly committed to the science behind the subject. We are very fortunate to have Dr. Johnson as the lead instructor for Wilderness Advanced Life Support™.

Jeffrey Isaac, PA-C

Jeff Isaac is the President of MedicalOfficer.Net, Ltd. and has been an instructor with Wilderness Medical Associates since the company’s founding in 1981. He is now the company’s curriculum director and co-author with Dr. David Johnson of Wilderness and Rescue Medicine, A Practical Guide for the Basic and Advanced Practitioner, used as a textbook in WMA courses worldwide. His teaching reflects the experience of 30 years in emergency medicine, outdoor education, and wilderness rescue.

In a career that began in 1974 he has served as an ambulance and fire/rescue crewman, professional ski patroller, emergency department practitioner, and on the medical staff of three ski area trauma clinics. He is a certified WEMT and a licensed physician assistant practicing with the Crested Butte Medical Center in Colorado, where he also serves as team leader and medical officer for Crested Butte Search and Rescue.

Jeffrey is also a licensed captain and an experienced blue-water sailor, having logged thousands of miles aboard his own sloop as well as serving as mate and medical officer on sail-training and research vessels. His marine resume includes twenty seasons as an instructor, course director, and vessel master with The Hurricane Island Outward Bound School. In 1991, Jeffrey authored The Outward Bound Wilderness First Aid Handbook, now in its third edition.

Brad Sablosky WEMT-P

Brad became interested in wilderness medicine during his 13 year career as a river guide in Northern Canada. After hanging up his guide paddle he served for 5 years as the Director of Langskib Wilderness Program in Northern Ontario. He has worked as a senior field instructor for Aspen Achievement Academy and sits on several charitable boards for outdoor education organizations. Durango, Colorado has been his home since 1996 where he serves as a Paramedic with Durango Fire and Rescue. He has served as the Vice President and Training Coordinator for La Plata County Search and Rescue. In the winter he serves as a professional patroller and the training supervisor for the Durango Mountain Resort Ski Patrol. Brad is a private pilot and owner of a Murphy Rebel bush plane. When not on the slopes he can be found exploring the dirt strips of the desert southwest. Check out his website here.

Price Includes

  • Four days of instruction.  All instructors are Practicing Medical Profesionals.  IE they have actual patient contact on a regular basis and are not just instructors.
  • All teaching materials are provided by Wilderness Medical Associates:
  • Lecture handouts
  • Case study workbook
  • SOAP notes

Price Does Not Include

  • Travel to the course site from your location
  • Wilderness and Rescue Medicine textbook
  • Items of personal nature
  • Individual travel costs, delays, etc.
  • Excess baggage fees
  • Personal clothing or gear
  • Alcoholic drinks and personal snacks
  • Hotels before, during, and after trip
  • Recommended Travel/trip cancelation insurance
  • Guide/ Staff gratuity


  • Bring appropriate clothing for the location and time of year. Remember that, rain or shine, much of our time is spent outside. You will also needs pens, a notebook, and a watch with a second hand. See our Student Handbook and speak with the sponsor for more information.


  • Participants must be ALS trained with current certification, i.e.: EMT-P and ALS trained EMT-I, Physician Assistant (PA), Registered Nurse (RN), or Physician (MD or DO). Others admitted on a case-by-case basis.


  • Day 1 9 hours: 
    • Logistics and Introduction; General Concepts in Wilderness Medicine; Roles and Responsibilities; Patient Assessment; Critical System Problem Recognition Drill; Critical System Summary; Spine
  • Day 2 9 hours: 
    • Homework Review; Musculoskeletal; Limb Splinting; Dislocation Reduction Demo and Practice; Skin, Soft Tissues and Burns; SAR/Organization; Small Group BLS Simulations
  • Day 3 9 hours: 
    • Thermoregulation; Cold Injuries; Altitude; ALS Treatments and Meds; Appropriate Technology; ALS Tools and Medications; Night Simulation
  • Day 4 8.5 hours:
    • Homework Review; Thermoregulation; Cold Injuries; Altitude; ALS Treatments and Meds; Appropriate Technology; ALS Tools and Medications; Night Simulation; Summary for the Course; Medical Legal; First Aid Kits; Wrap-Up; Final Exam

Registration & Cancelation

  • Unfortunately, due to extremely high demand we have a very strict registration and cancelation policy. We can not transfer you to an other program. WE HIGHLY RECOMMEND PURCHASING TRAVEL INSURANCE! We recommend the TravelEx Insurance Travel Select plan with the Adventurer Plus Pak upgrade.
  • To reserve your spot on a wilderness medical program please a 50% deposit is required if applying more than 60 days out. If your trip/ course starts in less than 60 days please submit full payment.  100$ off all program fees are due 60 days prior to start.
  • Program fees are non-transferable.
    If notice of cancellation is given in writing at least 60 days prior to the trip start date, you will be refunded your fulldeposit except for a $50 processing fee.
  • If notice of cancellation is given in writing within 59 – 30 days prior to the trip start date, a cancellation fee equal to the deposit amount will be charged. If notice of cancellation is given in writing less than 30 days prior to the trip start date, a cancellation fee equal to 100% of the program fee will be charged.



September 20th – 23rd, 2018


4 days


Durango, CO


$795 for EMT-P / RN
$895 for PA-C
$995 for  MD

Instructor to Student Ratio

Up 12 to 1