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Wilderness Medicine Semester Course

January 30, 2016 - February 25, 2016

Wilderness medicine - Mastatal - Upward Spirals 2

Certifications/Credits Earned:

  • 15 upper-division university semester credits
  • Aerie Wilderness Emergency Medical Technician (WEMT)
  • National Registry EMT-Basic  (EMT)
  • State of Montana EMT-Basic
  • American Heart Association Healthcare Provider CPR
  • Avalanche Rescue
  • Swiftwater Rescue Technician (SRT)
  • Search and Rescue Technician

Program Highlights:

Aerie’s Spring Semester is a unique program, providing students with the opportunity to learn wilderness medicine and rescue skills in the Costa Rican rainforest and the snowy Montana mountains.  The programs beings with 4+ intensive weeks in Costa Rica, where students complete most of their EMT training and then immediately use that training to help Aerie physicians and medics organize and run a free health clinic in small indigenous community. After the clinic, they head to the beautiful Sevegre River for Swiftwater Rescue Technician training.  There, Aerie instructors who founded the Whitewater Rescue Institute teach students how to manage complex rescues in a challenging whitewater environment.

Immediately after the swiftwater program, we pack up and fly to Montana, and, on arriving there, put on snowshoes and head up for a week of avalanche rescue and wilderness survival and navigation training.  Here, students earn their Level 1 Avalanche certification.  When digging around in the snow, it is always hard to imagine that just a week before you were rescuing patients out of a warm Costa Rican river, but that is the essence of the Semester.  Environments do not change medicine, but the opportunities and obstacles provided by each environment are unique and require specialized training and preparation.

After completing avalanche training, students return to the base of the mountains and continue with their Search and Rescue and wilderness EMT training.  They also augment their EMT skills with human anatomy instruction at the University of Montana cadaver lab, vehicle extrication training with local firefighters, and clinical hours both on an Advanced Life Support Ambulance and in an emergency room.

The program culminates with students putting their route-finding and wilderness medical treatment skills to the test in an overnight RATRACE (“reach and treat”) adventure race, where they are evaluated on all skills they learned in the program.  At the conclusion of the RATRACE, students have truly earned every certification, credit and experience they have gained.

Dates (please note that while these dates are accurate, a more precise schedule will be handed out as the program approaches):

  • January 9-29: on-line coursework
  • January 30:  Meet at SJO Airport, Costa Rica, and take shuttle to Mastatal.  Or, if traveling independantly, meet at Mastatal in afternoon.
  • February 1-29: Costa Rica Section
  • March 1: Travel back to US
  • March 7-April 15: Montana section



  • In-state MT residents should expect to pay about the same as they would at the University of Montana.  Out of state students should expect to pay slightly less than out of state students atteding the University of Montana.
  • Costs are variable and depend on whether students qualify for discounts and scholarships.  Call our office for details.

Click the following links for more information:

You may also contact Aerie directly if you would like to speak with someone from the SWM Program.


Rancho Mastatal
Costa Rica
506 2200-0920
View Venue Website


Tim O’Hara
View Organizer Website

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