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Upcoming Courses:
First Responder: January 27-31
First Responder: January 27-31
First Responder: January 27-31
First Responder: January 27-31
First Responder: January 27-31
First Responder: January 27-31
First Responder: January 27-31

Should I upgrade my First Responder to EMR?

First Responder to EMR upgrade course

This is one of the most frequent questions our clients ask us these days, and our answer is almost always a resounding yes!


A little bit of background…

In British Columbia the First Responder program was started almost 30 years ago, with the goal of providing consistent medical training to fire department first responders who care for patients while ambulance paramedics are en route to the call.  Over the years the program has changed here and there, but it still focuses on providing high quality patient care by teaching the following things:

  • The assessment and management of an emergency scene.

  • The identification and treatment of life threatening injuries in the primary survey.

  • Airway management skills needed to clear and maintain a patient’s airway;  including manual manoeuvres, suctioning, foreign body removal techniques, and the use of basic adjuncts like oral airways (OPAs).

  • The assessment and management of a patient’s respiratory system, including the application of oxygen as needed and supporting a patient’s ventilations with a bag valve mask when appropriate.

  • The assessment and management of a patient’s circulation, including the application of CPR and the use of an AED as needed.

  • Hemmorhage control skills, including the use of proper pressure and/or the rapid application of a tourniquet.

  • Patient positioning strategies.

  • An ongoing patient assessment via the secondary survey, including basic history taking, vital sign assessment, and the performance of a detailed physical exam.

  • Basic first aid skills for things like burns, minor wounds, fractures, etc.

  • Proper communication with ambulance paramedics when they arrive on scene to assume care of the patient (the “hand off report”).

The First Responder program is still used by the overwhelming majority of fire departments in BC, as well as by other emergency response groups.  We have worked with thousands of first responders over the years, and continue to be strong supporters of this program.  


How does EMR differ?  

Emergency Medical Responders are the first level of provider within the national scope of practice that are trained to assess a patient on scene, provide care in a more enhanced fashion than first responders can, package the patient appropriately for transport, continue assessing and treating the patient in the back of the ambulance while en route to the receiving facility (ie, the hospital) and, finally, to provide a detailed hand off report to the nursing staff at a receiving facility (ie, the hospital).

To go back to our original question then:


Why should I upgrade to Emergency Medical Responder?

The obvious answer is that EMR allows you to provide a higher level of care to your patient.  This is primarily through enhanced assessment skills and a better understanding of the pathophysiology that is at play when a patient is injured, but EMR also adds several new treatment options to a first responder’s toolkit.

In the FR to EMR bridge course you will learn:

  • Enhanced patient assessment skills, including pulse oximetry (which is still not taught in all FR courses), blood pressure assessment (which is also still not taught in all FR courses), chest auscultation (listening to the lungs with a stethoscope), blood sugar assessment with a glucometer, etc.

  • Enhanced airway management skills through the use of new tools, such as nasal airways.

  • Basic medical protocols for the safe administration of drugs like Nitro, ASA, Entonox, Glucose, etc.

  • New treatment options for injuries, such as pelvic binding, lower limb splinting, traction splinting, etc.

  • IV maintenance skills, designed to allow the EMR to assist paramedics more effectively on scene.

  • Enhanced education in areas such as pharmacology, pediatrics, obstetrics, etc.

In short, the EMR bridge course “fills the gaps” if you will, both cognitively and through providing the first responder with new treatment skills.

From a career training perspective, many fire departments are now moving to the Emergency Medical Responder (which is excellent), and EMR is also a pre-requisite for those looking to become paramedics.  EMR is a valuable certification to have on any resume or anybody looking to enter the safety or EMS professions.


How do I upgrade my FR to EMR?

At Priority Care First Aid we offer the First Responder to EMR bridge course in a six day format, both in our classroom in Langley and throughout the lower mainland in group course settings.  Our face to face education is supported by detailed reading lists and online practice exams, which allow students to test their progress during a course.

To learn more about the First Responder to EMR Bridging course click HERE.

And, to view upcoming course dates, you can click HERE.


We hope that you found this article helpful!

Best wishes,

The Priority Care First Aid Team

First Responder or First Responder Level 3?

I have heard so many different names applied to the First Responder Course.  What is the difference between an FR, a First Responder, an FR 1, FR 2, FR 3, First Responder level 1, First Responder Level 2, First Responder Level 3, First Responder Level I, First Responder Level II, First Responder Level III?   I have heard of First Responder Level 3 with Spinal and AED endorsements.  What is the First Responder Provider Course, or the Canadian Red Cross First Responder Course?

It can be very confusing, can’t it?

The First Responder program in British Columbia started in 1989, to provide a basic level of professional medical care to pre-hospital care patients until the BC Ambulance Service paramedics arrived.

Initially this program provided 3 levels of First Responder.  First Responder Level 1 was a one day course, First Responder Level 2 was a two day course, and First Responder Level 3 was a four day course.  Two endorsements were later added:  a 16 hour Spinal Management endorsement, and a 4 hour AED endorsement.

Over the last few years there has been a movement to simply have one comprehensive level of First Responder care that combines all of these levels.  Certain training agencies have named this combined level First Responder Provider.

At Priority Care First Aid we offer the Canadian Red Cross First Responder Course.  This comprehensive course exceeds the content of the older British Columbia First Responder Level III (3) with Spinal and AED endorsements, and is the course that the vast majority of fire departments in British Columbia now use as their program of choice.  When you complete this course with Priority Care First Aid, which includes your practical provincial licensing exams, you will be more than ready to provide high quality First Responder care!

To learn more about this course click HERE.

And, to view upcoming course dates you can click HERE.

Occupational First Aid Level 3 versus First Responder

I am an Occupational First Aid Level 3 (OFA-3) ticket holder. What is the difference between the Red Cross First Responder course and the Occupational First Aid (OFA) courses?

The WorkSafe BC Occupational First Aid program was designed specifically to focus on the needs of injured workers. The vast majority of the course focuses on assessing and managing traumatic injuries in the workplace, and the training is tailored to that environment. An example of this is the delegation of tasks to others on the accident scene. Because a workplace typically only has one trained Occupational First Aid attendant students are taught that all people assisting on the call are untrained. This is a realistic assumption in the workplace, but one that impacts how the patient management occurs. The Occupational First Aid courses also do not include specific training on pediatric emergencies, because workers are usually adults.

The Red Cross First Responder course was designed to train professional responders working in a wide variety of environments, including working within the 911 system, to respond to emergencies of all natures.

Because of this the course focuses on a wide range of medical and traumatic emergencies, including pediatrics, childbirth, etc. First Responders are taught to work in teams to provide optimal care. The patient assessment model is flexible, to reflect the realities of calls that occur in ever changing environments.

To learn more about the First Responder program click HERE.

And, to view upcoming course dates you can click HERE.

Should I take the First Responder course for my firefighting application?

Should I take the First Responder course if I want to be a firefighter?

It is important to always consult the actual hiring practices of the department you are applying too, but as a general rule the answer is definitely yes.  Most fire departments in British columbia (ie The Vancouver Fire Department, The Burnaby Fire Department, The Coquitlam Fire Department, The New Westminster Fire Department, The Port Moody Fire Department, The Pitt Meadows Fire Department, The Maple Ridge Fire Department, The Langley Fire Department, The Surrey Fire Department, The White Rock Fire Department, The Richmond Fire Department, etc) practice at the First Responder level (which used to be called First Responder Level 3 with Spinal and AED endorsements).

Completing your Canadian Red Cross First Responder course with Priority Care First Aid, which also includes your Emergency Medical Assistant’s Licensing Board practical exams (the EMALB) qualifies you at the same level as firefighters currently working in BC!

To learn more about the First Responder program click HERE.

And, to view upcoming course dates you can click HERE.



“For the last 10 years Ian has taught courses for our SAR team in First Aid, Medical First Responder, ITLS, and many other medical topics.

Ian is a gifted teacher who brings his many years of experience as a paramedic into the classroom and who delivers content in a fun and very relatable way. Our members return from his courses with new found knowledge, skills, and enthusiasm, and a deep appreciation of their role in patient care.

On top of that, Ian has been extremely supportive of our team. First Aid is a key skill for all SAR members. We are lucky to have Ian. His training adds great value to our organization and to our community.”

Training Officer
Search and Rescue Team


“I want to commend you and your team of Instructors for the outstanding courses I attended at Priority Care First Aid. As a retired Paramedic returning to the practice of Paramedicine part time, coupled with being a volunteer firefighter and first responder, I attended both the First Responder and Emergency Medical Responder programs put on by Priority Care First Aid and I am completely satisfied with the training and hands on experience that I have received. Ian and his team bring decades of real life experience into the classroom, relating course content to real world emergency situations, which further aids in bridging course content to actual events where one may find themselves assisting the injured or ill. As a Deputy Chief of the local fire department in the Fraser Valley Regional District, I was so impressed with Ian and his group that I have arranged to have the fire department firefighters and first responders attend a First Responder program with Priority Care First Aid.

I highly recommend Ian and his team at Priority Care First Aid.”

Fire Department Deputy Chief
BCEHS Paramedic


“I have been a member of Search and Rescue for over 20 years, and have taken first aid courses since my teens. There is something special about learning and training with Priority Care First Aid.

Ian is effortlessly able to keep you engaged throughout the program with his charisma, stories and experience. Even with the most extreme scenarios we throw at him, his answers are clear, calm, and thoughtful… giving you confidence that you can respond correctly. This wisdom is then bolstered in the practical exercises securing your technical proficiency.

Ian creates a memorable and dynamic learning environment. You leave his skilled training knowing that when you are called upon to help someone you can deliver quality accurate care.”

SAR Team Member


“Ian attended our office in December, 2019.

Ian provided exceptional service to 6 of us who took his First Aid Instructor Course.
Ian’s personality, professionalism, limitless knowledge and teaching skills were at the forefront of a perfect week of learning.

Thank you Ian for your support before, during and after the course.”

RCMP Training Section


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