Emergency Medical Responder is the highest level of volunteer first aid training. It was formerly called First Responder. The new title EMR was established in national standards in 2010 as part of a reorganization of the First Responder, Emergency Medical Technician, and Paramedic ratings.
These days you will see the title First Responder primarily in the realm of Homeland Security and emergency preparedness. Now the first responder is the first person (or agency) to arrive at an emergency as a “First Responder”…it is no longer used to describe a certified medical rating.
There is a difference between advanced first aid courses and the EMR certification. The EMR learns a skill set that is closer to the Emergency Medical Technician course than a first aid class. There are more details to learn and remember. EMR skills are expected to be at or near professional level. EMR classes have formal written and performance testing with clear pass/fail levels.
Advanced first aid classes are less formal and allow greater latitude in demonstrated performance. Testing standards are much less than an EMR class.
A certified EMR class produces graduates who have a medical response capability that fits right below the EMT in the EMS system. There are still many groups (fire departments, camps, outfitters, government agencies, etc…) that employ EMR personnel because they are a good balance between deployment of significant medical capability and the cost to train/certify/maintain EMTs.
National (and supporting state) standards for EMR have been around for many years. They formally define what should be taught at the EMR level.
OK, that’s clear. But what about the “wilderness” part? The story of what makes a class “wilderness” starts in the ’70s, when agencies start to develop their own variant of outdoor and remote care classes. Remember, there is no universally accepted standard for wilderness medicine or wilderness classes. A wilderness class is what the sponsoring agency decides it to be. Most are great, a few are not.
However, one of the most popularly followed curricula is the “National Practice Guidelines for Wilderness Emergency Care” published by the Wilderness Medical Society in 2010. You can access this information on the net and from publications.
The EMR class presented by Colorado First Aid fulfills the national EMR standards, and adds wilderness/remote protocols aligned with the Wilderness Medical Society guidelines.