In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we are working to add to our online resources, as we fully expect our traditional means of in-person outreach events and education will be significantly curtailed next season. At the same time, we know there will be an increase in backcountry use for this next season, with many new people without training or experience. This was especially evident during the first phase of quarantine for many backcountry areas with crowded parking areas and trail heads full of people who were out in the backcountry for their first time.
This project will develop a new, interactive online avalanche safety educational tool: Know More Go Further Online Learning (KMGF). This new tool will be one of our primary online programs. It is designed as a free, self-guided online tool that serves as an introduction to avalanche safety for new backcountry users or those new to the culture of avalanche awareness.
This project will highlight new tools and techniques, and will feature captivating images, videos, and interactive content. It will also be inclusive, to attract the full range of backcountry users, including skiers, snowmobilers, snowshoers, youth, and winter mountaineers. It will also incorporate the newest research from Simon Fraser University’s Avalanche Risk Management program, which has focused on how better to communicate with and engage winter backcountry users.
AvCan is well positioned internally to develop a professional, effective product. The AvCan team has significant experience in developing similar tools such as our internationally acclaimed online case study: Rescue at Cherry Bowl (https://www.avalanche.ca/cherry-bowl/#/intro).
Looking forward, we see a much higher demand for this type of delivery. The KMGF will serve as a prerequisite for our entry-level recreational training, the Avalanche Skills Training (AST). There are currently over 200 licensed providers delivering Avalanche Skills Training courses. Over the past season, close to 12,000 students took these courses.
We anticipate that instructors may be challenged to meet health guidelines for in-person training. The new KMGF will help bridge the gap between the in-classroom sessions and the field portions of this course. This online education will also provide a critical safety net to backcountry users who may not be able to access an AST 1 course next season.
The new KMGF will also be a great refresher for people who have taken some training and want to brush up on their avalanche safety skills. It will also be ideally suited for high school students. We have had many inquiries from school districts looking for robust online courses for students learning from home in quarantine. This tool will better suit their needs, with more engagement and more self-assessment tools built into the modules.
As a premier online product, we expect the KMGF will help save lives by providing essential safety information to backcountry users in the absence of our traditional outreach events, presentations and education. We believe this new tool will deliver tremendous benefit over its life of many years. The final product will be launched under our AvCan brand and pushed to our public audiences and our partner organizations. This is a great opportunity for you to be part of an initiative that will really make a difference in saving lives.