By Richard Asselin, CSP Director (


In 2011, the advanced first aid (AFA) course of the Canadian Ski Patrol was approved by the federal government for a period of five years, expiring in 2016. It was not renewed because the federal government ceased approving first aid training programs. The responsibility for approving first aid training programs was transferred to the provinces.

Since then, some zones and divisions have obtained provincial recognition of our AFA training. However, the availability and requirements for accreditation varies between provinces and led to a patchwork of provincial approvals with issues in equivalency, as well as no formal recognition in some provinces.

In 2017, the board of directors discussed approaches to certification in the maze of various and changing jurisdictional requirements. It supported a broader approach in which the CSP would work with other organizations to create a coalition of first aid providers. This coalition would work in partnership, to become a voice and a resource to the federal and provincial governments, and to help bring standardization and equivalency to the recognition of first aid training programs.

Earlier this year, Vice-president of Training and Development Linda Andrews was accepted as a member of the technical advisory group of the Canadian Standards Association (CSA). Her career in health care and experience as a peer reviewer of health research, were instrumental in the acceptance. This is an important step in moving toward a more national system of first aid certification standards and an achievement in that it recognizes the contributions that the CSP can bring to that effort.

The landscape of first aid certification is changing. Since the 2015 release of guidelines, the International Liaison Committee on Resuscitation (ILCOR) has moved away from the practice of releasing updates to cardiopulmonary resuscitation on a five-year cycle, instead implementing a program to update CPR practices on an ongoing basis. In 2014, the CSA began work that resulted in standardized requirements and guidelines for first aid training and assessment of training organizations. The standard, called CSA Z1210-17 “First Aid Training for the Workplace – Curriculum and Quality Management for Training Agencies,” has been adopted in a number of provinces.

Those certification bodies have an impact, respectively, on the scope of practice and first aid training curriculum within the CSP. As an organization of volunteers, we have been on the receiving end of changes to practices and curriculum and had to respond and incorporate those changes with our limited resources.

The initiative shown by Linda Andrews has several meaningful consequences for the CSP. It means that there is a formal, or institutional, linkage between the CSP and the CSA. This allows the CSP to provide input to, and feedback on, first aid curriculum standards from the perspective of a front-line emergency care provider. Systemically, this represents a wider recognition of what we do. Secondly, the link to the CSA will be helpful to us in anticipating and planning for changes in our training programs.

The best patrollers always “hope for the best but plan for the worst.” Linda’s initiative and dedication means we will continue to be among the best at what we do.

CSP and the Canadian Standards Association