An Anchorage survival-training group spent Saturday showing people how to treat injured patients after avalanches and other backcountry disasters.

Staff at Learn to Return say the "Delayed Care, Delayed Transport" class -- its first in 30 years to be offered to the public -- is a response to constantly changing first-aid practices. The program is typically taught to remote construction teams, people who fly for different groups in the state and researchers who may find themselves in areas where medical care could be delayed.

"We saw two problems," said Brian Horner, Learn to Return's director of survival training. "One is, people are going out to places on snowmachines without any medical training."

Horner says people are buying machines with all the bells and whistles, thinking that nothing will happen to them.

"They're buying a new snowmachine and a Thermos and a cool little backpack, and they are hoping that will do all the work for them," Horner said. "They are thinking that their (survival) episode is break down and build a fire; it's not. It's impact with a tree, it's impact with another [snowmachiner], it's falling through a hole in the ice, it's Uncle Bob having a heart attack."

The past few years have seen numerous changes in first-aid ratings for wilderness survival.

"People don't know what they know anymore," Horner said. "We're not putting collars on people in the wilderness any more; it makes head injuries worse. We're not pulling your helmets off early; it just makes injuries worse. We're not putting you in a shock position, we're not raising your feet; it just makes injuries worse."

Horner says his staff has learned a lot from the military and wilderness medicine research -- information people should know to help a friend or family member injured in the wilderness.

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