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Coming together during Covid-19

by Jennifer Kingsley · 11 October 2020

Jennifer Kingsley is a writer and radio producer based in Ottawa, Canada. She’s also a professional guide and a National Geographic Explorer who has applied her training with Boreal River in many countries around the world.

COVID Procedures and precautions on Wilderness first responder course

By the time I showed up for my recertification course at the beginning of June, I’d barely left my neighbourhood in two and a half months. The course had been postponed as Boreal River, along with the rest of the world, figured out how to adapt to Covid-19.

I wondered if choosing to attend the course would be a difficult decision, but once I saw the protocols Danny Peled and his team had put in place, I knew right away that I would attend.

Health and safety can never be guaranteed – not now, not ever – but we can adapt to changing conditions, and this course was proof of that.

One of Wilderness Medical Associates’ core principles is to teach concepts. We learn to assess a situation and to use our skills and training to work through it. That’s even more relevant now, both on a course designed to keep us safe during a pandemic, and as we prepare to use our skills in real situations.

For example, when would we approach a stranger in the backcountry during Covid-19? How would we manage our risk?

It was different to learn with a minimum of two meter distancing, wearing masks, working on mannequins, using our own equipment, and sanitizing at regular intervals. I felt comfortable with the protocols, but I also felt extra tired at the end of each day.

I realized that adapting the course was a mirror of how we are adapting our lives, and how we must adapt our skills over and over to meet the conditions of the real world. That’s what the course is really about.

We didn’t choose these changes to our lives, but we can’t deny them either. Now I feel a little more prepared for whatever comes next.

June 12, 2020 – Jennifer Kingsley 

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