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How terrifying would it be if someone you were with in the backcountry was injured or stricken by altitude sickness and you didn’t know how to help?

The Colorado Mountain Club conducts Wilderness First Aid classes every year. But because of the pandemic, classes this summer are moving to mostly online learning.

It is a timely move. Public land managers say inexperienced people are heading for the hills in droves because they have been deprived of other recreation outlets. Meanwhile, search and rescue teams openly worry about the effects of responding to an accident with the threat of COVID-19, urging backcountry users to exercise extreme caution.

“Wilderness First Aid is for anyone who spends any time in the backcountry or even front country trails, whether it be in personal recreation pursuits or as a CMC trip leader leading our members on outdoor activities,” said Emily Bresko, CMC program coordinator. “You will learn how to assess patients, provide effective treatment from common outdoor illnesses and injuries, and make evacuation decisions. It’s just great training for anyone who is going to be spending time recreating outside.”

Wilderness First Aid is a 16-hour course for which CMC is partnering with Backcountry Pulse. According to a description on the Backcountry Pulse website, that organization is a “philanthropic-oriented education company offering wilderness medicine certification to medical professionals, outdoor leaders and recreationalists.”

Bresko said classes will include four hours of online lectures and four hours of “self-paced learning from skills videos and online quizzes in Google Classroom.” The final eight hours will take place in the field whenever CMC deems it is safe for in-person instruction.

CMC conducts more than 250 courses and classes annually, but it has had to find new ways to offer instruction this year.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has posed a real challenge for us because we can’t necessarily facilitate those classes in that traditional format,” Bresko said. “Our main priority is keeping participants safe.”

A series of Wilderness First Aid Classes begins Aug. 15 and runs through Sept. 19. The cost is $245 ($200 for CMC members).

This content was originally published here.