Wilderness First Responder: Are Skills Soon Forgotten?

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© 2017 Wilderness Medical Society Wilderness first responders are trained to provide competent medical care in wilderness settings or until evacuation for more advanced treatment can be obtained. In light of the isolated environments in which they are called upon to respond to illnesses and injuries, their ability to effectively apply their training is crucial. Despite the responsibility assigned to them, there is an absence of research assessing the skill and knowledge retention of wilderness first responders, creating a gap in understanding whether a deficit in their ability to perform exists between certifications. Without such research, it is important to review knowledge and skill retention in related responder groups. The literature over the past 4 decades documents the loss over time of skills and knowledge across an array of trained responders, both professional and laypeople. Although the findings reviewed suggest that WFRs will exhibit a similar pattern of increasing skill loss beginning shortly after certification and a slower, but concurrent, decrease in knowledge, research is needed to document or refute this assumption.