World Congress on Wilderness Medicine opens in Whistler on Friday 

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Whistler Search and Rescue (SAR) will show its skills to the world this week.

Almost 300 people are taking part in the 6th World Congress on Wilderness Medicine in Whistler from July 13-17 and the local SAR unit will be taking an active part in the program.

It's a conference that is, according to Whistler SAR manager Brad Sills, "particularly well-suited to Whistler."

In addition to running through their incident command system and doing tours of the base, Whistler SAR will also showcase improvised rescue techniques and a long-line helicopter demonstration at the heliport.

This is the third time the Wilderness Medical Society (WMS) has held a conference in Whistler. It was chosen again because it an internationally recognized resort, and it fits well with the theme.

"It fits with our overall wilderness interaction," said Dr. Loren Greenway, CEO with the society.

The WMS is devoted to wilderness medical challenges. Founded in 1983, its mission is to advance healthcare, research and education related to wilderness medicine.

A look at the Whistler program shows workshops and talks on dive medicine, disaster and humanitarian relief, wilderness wound management and sports medicine for the wilderness, among a host of other topics.

Greenway said there were several reasons for having a conference like this.

"Wilderness medicine is practiced worldwide and this gives an opportunity for people in the worldwide wilderness community to get together to discuss the issues around wilderness medicine," he said.

It also provides a forum for cutting edge research on wildness medicine and a way for the WMS to showcase its membership benefits. "It's the premier place for education in wilderness medicine in all its aspects," said Greenway.

He added wilderness medicine is a growing field as more people recreate in the backcountry and due to natural disasters around the world.

The five-day session starts on July 13.

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