River Rescue Courses, Syllabi, Instructors, Issues....

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Hi There

There has been an email circulating asking for feedback on why there is reluctance for paddlers to do the NZRCA approved river safety and rescue courses.

I have recently come back from the US doing courses and research into technical water rescue, as part of a scholarship with my voluntary work with the Swiftwater Rescue Education Trust.

To date we (the Trust) have instructed many kayakers, raft guides and emergency service personnel in water rescue using the swiftwater rescue technician and responder programmes accredited by NFPA, ACC/WSNZ RiverSafe and Rescue 3 International.

One of the feedback points is that our existing programme although very informative and useful was pitched more at emergency service workers providing tactics to public safety emergencies so topics like incident management, SAR management, vehicle rescues, helicopter and flood channel operations were not relevant for kayakers.

In response to this we will be launching the revised Rescue 3 International Whitewater Rescue Technician (WRT) programme in October. This 3 day course is internationally recognised and our launch course will hopefully be led by Chris Jonason from WaveTrek USA, who is an instructor trainer for the American Canoe Association. This course is internationally recognised and as with all our courses students recieve a comprehensive manual, patch, certificate and skill sheet.

Our Trust is very interested to work with NZRCA on the launch and evaluation of this programme.

It is important to note that all our instructors are volunteers, we maintain a student/trainer ratio of 1:6 so we often have 3 instructors on our courses and I doubt the course would exceed $200, in fact for the launch course we could discuss options to reduce this if a formal ongoing relationship was forged.

In terms of feedback to NZRCA about the issues around the river safety/rescue courses may I suggest:

1) The syllabi may require revision to either make it more flexible for providers or recognise other international standards as used by the WRT programme.
2) That other internationally recognised instructor qualifications other than NZOIA are recognised, Rescue 3 Instructors are accredited through NFPA - over 90,000 people have been trained through the RQ3 programme and in many countries it is the sole rescue qualification required for rafting guides.
3) That where NZRCA apply a subsidy, that all subsidies are in reply to a course evaluation form allowing NZRCA to ensure a return on investment and to ensure providers deliver quality courses.
4) Also later this year, we hope to be taking on more volunteer instructors specifically for WRT so there may well be opportunties for keen people to assist our course and if we attract more sponsorhsip we will ensure our costs will come down - hopefully to the point the subsidy itself could even make the courses free. So if anyone has companies that are interested in sponsoring the trust or just the WRT programme - contact me.

Another point of note is that from 0 to our swiftwater rescue advanced technician it takes 4 courses, a total of 13 days training excluding first aid and other courses, so I am a little cautious of teaching people rope skills that carry a "significant hazard" while being able to meet requirements under s.13 of the HASIE Act - requiring people to be sufficiently trained - a 3 day course in my opinion only opens gives a little knowledge, typical of people exiting the course with no access to skills maintenance or mentoring to ensure post course safety of students.

We hope to have a reviewed WRT-K information sheet on line over the next few months, in the meantime you are all welcome to visit www.sret.org.nz

Hopefully this forum strand will generate some positive discussion.

Keep safe out there

Steve Glassey
Secretary & Instructor Trainer
Swiftwater Rescue Education Trust