What is the Backcountry Emergencies Certification(BEC)?

Backcountry Emergencies is a unique, 12 hour wilderness first aid fundamentals course designed especially for high school PE and outdoor education programs.  Coast Wilderness has been been partnering with public and private schools to deliver Wilderness First Aid training for many years, and those experiences - and the incredible feedback we've received along the way - now allow us to offer our renowned high quality, experiential training in a format that can be adapted to the schedule and needs of secondary school programs.  

What Does Backcountry Emergencies Offer Your Outdoor Education Program?

Capable Instructors: All Coast Wilderness BEC instructors are not only wilderness medical professionals - they also have plenty of experience working with high school students, and are prepared with a toolkit of activities and incentives to keep your students engaged during our training sessions.  We also offer an instructor-to-student ratio of not more than 10-to-1 - much better than most other providers - to facilitates both learning and group management.

Flexible "Modular" Scheduling: Most wilderness first aid courses are designed to flow over intensive, multi-day training sessions, and don't adapt well to irregularly scheduled blocks.  However, we realize that it can be difficult to set aside for an outdoor educator to set aside two or three consecutive days for their students training, so we designed the Backcountry Emergencies program to be delivered in a series of scaffolded 3 or 4 hour modules, each with its own distinct learning narrative, flow, and goals.  This allows the BEC to accommodate students' other activities, and school events.

Adaptable Scenarios: All Coast Wilderness courses are rooted in hands-on learning, with about 75% of students' time spent hands-on with patients in mock scenarios, complete with make-up, props, destroy-able clothing, and just so much fake blood.   With enough lead time and discussion, these scenarios can be adapted to the activities teachers have planned for their group - if you are planning a rock climbing trip at Smoke Bluffs, for example, we can develop scenarios around that.  

Robust Risk Management and Accident Prevention: As part of an outdoor education curriculum, WFA should not come in as a stand-alone module.  Instead, the BEC includes risk awareness and prevention tools that are designed to not only reduce risk of accidents and injuries generally, but are consistent with education standards  in the greater outdoors industry.  This consistency will help reinforce what is arguably the most important topic in outdoors education.

Comprehensive Learning: We have developed a focused fundamentals curriculum, rather than an awkwardly shortened Wilderness First Aid, so that students learn the basic skills and concepts well, while being made aware of the limits of this training.  The curriculum focuses on those topics that benefit most from hands-on experience, such as CPR, spinal management, splinting, wound care and hypothermia treatments.  Topics that don't lend themselves as well to hands-on training - like heat emergencies, frostbite management, and altitude illness - are covered in independent reading and student presentations.

Upgradeable Certification: The shortest Canadian Red Cross Wilderness First Aid course is 20 hours, so the BEC is not a Red Cross recognized course.  However, all of our instructors are Red Cross certified instructors, and the course content is consistent with Red Cross WFA requirements.  That means, students who successfully complete the BEC are eligible for a 1 day upgrade to a full Red Cross Wilderness First Aid Certification, which fully includes the Red Cross Standard First Aid, and CPR/AED-C.  An upgrade day will be scheduled for interested students at the time of the course.  That certificate, in turn, can be a portal to higher level wilderness medical certificates, including Advanced Wilderness First Aid, and Wilderness First Responder.

Sample Course Outline (3 Days, 4 Hour Sessions)


  • Preview First Aid and Medical Emergencies Graphics

  • Online Hypothermia Awareness & Management

  • Group Media Assignments

Day One
(CPR and Medical Emergencies)

  • Unprepared CPR Scenario / Practice

  • CPR / AED Discussion

  • Discuss Pre-course Work

  • Choking Emergencies (Practice and Discussion)

  • Medical Emergencies Scenarios (Allergies, Asthma, Chest Pain, Strokes)

  • Instructor Scenario - Diabetic

  • Deadly Bleeds (Pressure & Tourniquets)

  • Hazard Management Conversation - Individual Risk Factors (FACETS), 10 Essentials

  • Homework - pre-read spinal graphic; prepare day pack with 10 essentials for next time.

Day Two
(Spinal & Hypothermia )

  • Check out some students' day packs.

  • Hypothermia Wrap

  • Hypothermia Scenario

  • Basic Spinal Precautions (Holds / Rolls)

  • Tarp Carries

  • Extricationopolis: Moving / Packaging Spinal Patients

  • Spinal Scenarios (with and without imminent hazards)

  • First Aid Kits - Basics and Planning

  • Homework: Pre-read fundamentals of splinting and wound care; bring in any splinting material they might have on a trip.

Day Three
(Splintzapalooza & Wound Care)

  • Splinting Practice: Building True Immobilizing Splints

  • Simple Splinting Scenarios (With unexpected medical emergencies)

  • Wound Care Fundamentals

  • Simple Wound Care Scenarios (With just so much fake blood)

  • Leadership and Group Dynamics

  • Larger Scope Scenarios

  • Course Wrap-up - Limitations of what we've learned, and where to go from here.

Get More Information

To find out if Backcountry Emergencies is right for your Outdoor Education or PE program, use the form below to contact us, or telephone us at (778) 888-5684.  

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