Suffering an injury or experiencing a medical condition while in the backcountry can be devastating without the expertise on how to survive.
“When there is no ambulance nearby to come rescue you in the wilderness, what do you do?” said Jim Ongena, a pioneer in teaching wilderness medicine courses across Canada and the U.S.
“There is no worse feeling than bending over your badly hurt friend and feeling helpless to help.”
Ongena, who now resides in Summerland, is offering his wilderness first aid course in Kelowna from Nov. 2 to 4, a course he has been teaching since the early 1980s.
He founded a Canadian company back in 1977, Corporate Heights, built around giving motivational speeches and team building programs to corporations and organizations. The focus being wilderness medicine training, rock and ice climbing courses and outdoor guiding adventures.
The 2 1/2 day program is designed to enable physicians, outdoor leaders and responsible wilderness users to treat people in an outdoor environment with a minimum of a equipment.
Ongena said his course is not similar to a St. John’s Ambulance or Red Cross first aid course, which he says are geared to people living in urban centres.
“In the outdoor wilderness, we simply don’t have an option to call 911. Nor do we encourage our graduates to use wilderness protocols in urban areas or the side of highways. There are very good emergency management services that do this,” Ongena said.
Those demands could include dealing with dislocations, sprains or limb fractures; soft tissue injuries; snakes or spider bites; head injuries; cold or drowning related injuries; or cardiovascular concerns such as a stroke or heart attack.
“An accident in the backcountry won’t look like the spectacular swooping helicopter we see on TV but more likely an arduous, muddy, exhausting effort,” Ongena said.
While Ongena acknowledges it’s impossible to train or learn how to react to every kind of injury scenario in the wilderness, he believes his wilderness program helps to reduce the potential for being helpless to respond.
The registration fee for the course is $300, which includes course materials and a certificate of completion.
For more information, call 250-486-7166 or email Jim@corporateheights.ca.
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