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First Responder: January 27-31
First Responder: January 27-31

OFA-3 to EMR – Should I Upgrade?

Emergency Medical Responder course


Last week we published a blog post that discussed whether it was worthwhile to upgrade a First Responder certificate to an Emergency Medical Responder one.  Our answer was a resounding yes, and this week we would like to answer a similar question from a student who asked if they should upgrade their OFA-3 certificate to the EMR level.

OFA-3 and EMR share a lot of common ground; they are both courses designed to train an Advanced First Aider to:

  • Control an emergency scene

  • Conduct a primary survey and treat any life threatening injuries that are found

  • Package a patient appropriately and transport them to the hospital

  • Continue assessment and treatment on scene and in the back of a transport vehicle.

  • Care for any non life threatening injuries found.  And,

  • Provide a hand off report to the next level of care (i.e. paramedics or hospital staff)

The difference between the two courses lies largely in context:

The Occupational First Aid program trains first aid attendants who care for injured workers on job sites, with the OFA-3 course designed specifically for first aiders who work in remote areas that are a distance away from the hospital.  The course focuses heavily on the care of traumatic injuries that happen on job sites, both major and minor, as well as the treatment of common workplaces ailments like repetitive strain injuries, flash burns, occupational dermatitis, the completion of WorkSafe BC’s required paperwork, etc.  Because there is a workplace focus, OFA-3 courses do not spend a large amount of time on medical emergencies, there is no time spent on the care of paediatric patients, and the skills taught are limited to the use of equipment found on job sites governed by WorkSafe BC.

The Emergency Medical Responder program, on the other hand, was designed to train entry level people who respond to a wide variety of calls within the 911 system.  The course teaches an even balance of trauma management and the care of various medical emergencies, it provides basic life support training for all patient demographics (infants, children, adults), it uses a wide variety of equipment found in modern ambulance services, and it focuses heavily on working in a team based environment.

While the two courses have differences, they actually compliment each other in a very good way.  When an OFA-3 attendant upgrades or bridges their OFA-3 certificate to the EMR level they will learn things like:

  • A more detailed patient assessment, including blood pressure assessment, blood sugar assessment, and how to auscultate the lungs with a stethoscope.

  • New airway management skills, such as the use of nasal airways as a compliment to the oral airways already used in the OFA-3 curriculum.

  • A team based approach to performing high performance cardiac arrest management.

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

  • New treatment options for injuries, such as professional pelvic binding, 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.

When we wrote about upgrading First Responder to the EMR level, we said that EMR can “fills the gaps” in a First Responder’s knowledge base.  This is also true when a student upgrades their OFA-3 certificate to an EMR one, but with the added benefit of the student also having all of the workplace specific knowledge as well.

We strongly feel that OFA 3 plus EMR is an excellent level of knowledge to have!


How do I upgrade my OFA-3 to an EMR?

We offer the OFA-3 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 OFA-3 to EMR Bridging course click HERE.

To view upcoming course dates, you can click HERE.

Best wishes,

The Priority Care First Aid Team


“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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