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First aid for outdoor enthusiasts

Last week, I stepped out of the office to get a taste of a different kind of first aid training. I joined instructor Blair Doyle and a dozen participants taking part in an Advanced Wilderness and Remote First Aid course.

This Canadian Red Cross course is meant to prepare people to deal with unpredictable situations they might encounter in the wilderness. It’s quite a change from the classroom or workplace setting of most first aid courses. To put it simply, this course is not for the faint of heart!

Much of the four-day course takes place outdoors, in the elements, with participants feeling the effects of the cold, rain or wind. When I met up with the group, they had spent the previous night camping outdoors, in the middle of February.

What participants learn in this course is invaluable, including how to deal with everything from frostbites and wounds to broken bones and spinal injuries. Why is it so important? When you’re out in the backcountry, it could take hours rather than minutes for responders to get to you so it’s critical to know the first steps to take should someone be injured.

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