I recently took our 80 hour Wilderness First Aid course here at our office in Canmore. We have a new provider for this training, Rocky Mountain Adventure Medicine and I had been holding off taking the course to sit in on their program. This very intensive wilderness first aid course gives you the option of obtaining Wilderness First Responder (WFR) Certification (the standard for the outdoor industry) or the Advanced Adventure Medic Certification that is one of only two first aid programs recognized by Alberta Workplace Health and Safety as an advanced first aid course.
The program started off with all of the regular first aid training but you quickly learn there is a vast difference between urban and wilderness first aid. Although many of us have first aid training in CPR and basic wound management the backcountry offers a whole new element in all aspects of first aid, evacuation and extended patient care.
Not only did we learn all of the first aid requirements but soon realized that in a typical backcountry situation, help is not always a phone call away so we focused on stabilizing patients until help arrives. We were examined on making splints, collars and spine restriction devices out of the contents of our packs and what we could find in the backcountry. This is a must take training for any backcountry enthusiast.
Our instructor Dave Watt is a highly experienced medic and an avid climber and outdoorsman – the perfect combination for Yamnuska’s requirements. I recognize 80 hours is a significant time investment for most people so we are currently working on a weekend warrior first aid course that will allow the busiest of people to get the skills they need.
I view wilderness first aid skills just as critical as any other climbing or technical skill that you need to develop to enjoy the outdoors safely. This spring watch for our weekend warrior wilderness first aid course – hopefully you never have to use it but if you ever are in that situation, the skills will be invaluable.