Introduction: A disparity exists between the skills needed to manage patients in wilderness EMS environments and the scopes of practice that are traditionally approved by state EMS regulators. In response, the National Association of EMS Physicians Wilderness EMS Committee led a project to define the educational core content supporting scopes of practice of wilderness EMS providers and the conditions when wilderness EMS providers should be required to have medical oversight.
Methods: Using a Delphi process, a group of experts in wilderness EMS, representing educators, medical directors, and regulators, developed model educational core content. This core content is a foundation for wilderness EMS provider scopes of practice and builds on both the National EMS Education Standards and the National EMS Scope of Practice Model. These experts also identified the conditions when oversight is needed for wilderness EMS providers.
Results: By consensus, this group of experts identified the educational core content for four unique levels of wilderness EMS providers: Wilderness Emergency Medical Responder (WEMR), Wilderness Emergency Medical Technician (WEMT), Wilderness Advanced Emergency Medical Technician (WAEMT), and Wilderness Paramedic (WParamedic). These levels include specialized skills and techniques pertinent to the operational environment. The skills and techniques increase in complexity with more advanced certification levels, and address the unique circumstances of providing care to patients in the wilderness environment. Furthermore, this group identified that providers having a defined duty to act should be functioning with medical oversight.
Conclusion: This group of experts defined the educational core content supporting the specific scopes of practice that each certification level of wilderness EMS provider should have when providing patient care in the wilderness setting. Wilderness EMS providers are, indeed, providing health care and should thus function within defined scopes of practice and with physician medical director oversight.
Keywords: Delphi; EMS; scope of practice; wilderness.