WFR by NOLS vs SOLO


Original Post
Spidey Rocks · Mar 18, 2016 · San Francisco · Joined Apr 2015 · Points: 0
I'd like to take the Wilderness First Responder course but the one offered by SOLO is almost $200 cheaper than the one by NOLS in my area. Does any rock guide or SPI know whether or not the industry (both in the US and internationally) would accept/honor WFR certification by either SOLO or NOLS or only NOLS? I have never heard of SOLO before but it might be because they're mainly based on the East Coast.

Thanks.

DrRockso · Mar 19, 2016 · Red River Gorge, KY · Joined Sep 2013 · Points: 168
It is NOT required that WFR be taught by NOLS.

Jon Rhoderick · Mar 19, 2016 · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2009 · Points: 560
It's quite likely that most businesses would accept the WFR from SOLO, it isn't a monopoly held by WMI the same way AHA owns CPR certifications. What is nice about WMI is that if you take a course from them, they will allow you to recertify a year or so after your certification expires if life gets in the way. That can be worth more than $200 if your cert lapses. If you can stay on top of things then SOLO is probably a good deal.
Hope that helps

Adamant D · Mar 21, 2016 · Boulder, CO · Joined Apr 2010 · Points: 0
Jon Rhoderick wrote:What is nice about WMI is that if you take a course from them, they will allow you to recertify a year or so after your certification expires if life gets in the way. That can be worth more than $200 if your cert lapses. If you can stay on top of things then SOLO is probably a good deal. Hope that helps
Important note is that SOLO WFR certifications are active for three years. A WMI cert is active for two years, with a one year grace period. SOLO could save you money in the long run, since you only have to recertify every three years to keep an active cert, whereas WMI requires recert every other year to stay active. SOLO and WMI will recert each other with no issue.

I've taken all my original certification courses from SOLO, from WFA to W-EMT, and have been consistently happy with their curriculum, staff and service.

One other SOLO bonus, not super relevant to the original question: SOLO WFR recertification courses are done in two long days, rather than three days (WMI and pretty much everyone else). Pretty nice if you have a weekday job and want to get the recert done on a weekend.

JaminT · Mar 21, 2016 · Jackson, WY · Joined Jul 2012 · Points: 0
I've taken both and prefer SOLO. I've also had no problems with organizations accepting SOLO certs; in fact, I've had to recert with WMI after my initial SOLO cert and there was no problem crossing over. Good luck!

DRusso · Mar 21, 2016 · Unknown Hometown · Joined May 2014 · Points: 200
The other benefit of SOLO WFR is that once you have the cert if you want to get a W-EMT cert from SOLO, they offer a discounted course to upgrade to W-EMT.

Spidey Rocks · Mar 21, 2016 · San Francisco · Joined Apr 2015 · Points: 0
Thanks to all who have responded. Very helpful information! Turns out there was an old thread on Mtn Project regarding whether NOLs vs SOLO. The majority of the people on that thread seemed to prefer NOLS course over SOLO. But with a $200 difference, I might go with SOLO.

TBrumme Brumme · Mar 21, 2016 · denver, co · Joined Dec 2011 · Points: 140
Most companies that require a WFR certification for employment require a certain length of course. The company I work for requires a minimum of an 80-hour course. Doesn't matter who certifies, so long as the course consists of at least 80 hours of training.

Alex Bury · Mar 22, 2016 · Ojai, CA · Joined Jun 2012 · Points: 1,868
Just a piece of info to throw on the pile...
If you are planning to work strictly for other companies, and not planning on doing your own promotion, then you might just take the cheaper option. But if you plan to branch out and produce your own clients, then the NOLS name is great to have. Tons of people recognize it, perhaps even more than the AMGA ticket.

Spidey Rocks · Mar 22, 2016 · San Francisco · Joined Apr 2015 · Points: 0
Those are some good points to consider. Thanks, guys!

Max Koenig · Mar 23, 2016 · Athens, GA · Joined Mar 2013 · Points: 0
Other notable information:

SOLO is one of the only wilderness medicine educator that is completely unaffiliated with any other educational/guiding outfit. Wilderness medicine is what they do, plain and simple.

SOLO invented WFR and is the longest continually operating wilderness medicine organization in the game

Spidey Rocks · Mar 23, 2016 · San Francisco · Joined Apr 2015 · Points: 0
Thanks, MaxwellK. But what does all of this actually mean in practice for the student? What benefits do these distinctions confer to the student/prospective SPI?

Max Koenig · Mar 23, 2016 · Athens, GA · Joined Mar 2013 · Points: 0
I feel like WMI gets a lot of credit because it is associated with NOLS and SOLO often seems like the lesser of the two in comparison. I think that many people don't realize that SOLO is at least an equivalent provider of wilderness medical instruction.

Basically: if the SOLO course is cheaper, I would for sure do that one.

Now to be transparent, I've done WFA a few times, WFR once, and I am about to start a WEMT with SOLO. I did a NOLS course many years ago and I think highly of both organizations. I would just be wary of the "NOLS-it-all" attitude, especially in the western half of the US.

GroundTarp · Mar 23, 2016 · Unknown Hometown · Joined May 2013 · Points: 0
for what it is worth, for YOUR overall education, 200 dollars is not much. I took my initial course through NOLS/WMI, did my re-cert through SOLO and will be doing my re-cert again through WMI this spring. In my opinion SOLO was just ok and the teachers w. WMI were phenomenal. Remember, this is not about saving 200 dollars or when you can re-cert, but about your own personal knowledge, helping people and maybe even being a part of saving a life. No one here has mentioned the over all baseline education they have gotten from the program. What I have witnessed, SOLO just got me in and out the door.

Stagg54 Taggart · Mar 23, 2016 · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2006 · Points: 0
GroundTarp wrote:for what it is worth, for YOUR overall education, 200 dollars is not much. I took my initial course through NOLS/WMI, did my re-cert through SOLO and will be doing my re-cert again through WMI this spring. In my opinion SOLO was just ok and the teachers w. WMI were phenomenal. Remember, this is not about saving 200 dollars or when you can re-cert, but about your own personal knowledge, helping people and maybe even being a part of saving a life. No one here has mentioned the over all baseline education they have gotten from the program. What I have witnessed, SOLO just got me in and out the door.
That's funny. I've also taken both and had the exact opposite experience. Maybe it was just the individual instructors.

As far as content, in theory both groups ( and any other WFR providers) teach roughly the same material. It's all supposed to be to the standards of the Wilderness Medecine Society. Each group has their own nuances as far as what particular aspects they emphasize the most and how the roleplaying/scenarios get done and what the split is between lectures and hands/on practice.

For the extra $200, I don't think you'll notice that much of a difference.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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