Last spring, Wet Planet flew in river rescue guru Don Lester from Sierra Rescue and offered the first ever River Rescue Certification (RRC) course here at Wet Planet and in Washington. The RRC is a new Rescue 3 course and curriculum that has been developed by industry leaders Sierra Rescue and Rescue 3 International to meet the needs of both recreational whitewater boaters (RRC) and professional river guides and instructors (RRC Pro). Introducing this class at Wet Planet in the spring of 2014, Wet Planet is currently the only rescue center in the Pacific Northwest able to offer these new courses, with owner/instructor Todd Collins one of a handful of RRC instructors nationwide.
Based on the overwhelmingly positive feedback we received from the course and recognizing the need and potential in the river industry, Wet Planet decided to add more instructors to this new Rescue 3 river rescue program. The requirments to teach the RRC curriculum are stringent, and, in order to maintain the high level of instructors teaching the courses, new RRC instructors must be approved by Sierra Rescue. So, in October Wet Planet raft guides and kayak instructors Jeff Clewell and myself (Dave Seal) headed to the Stanislaus River in California to take a water rescue instructor course from Julie Munger, the mastermind of the RRC.
WHAT IS NEW WITH THE RCC/RRC PRO?
For years, most of the Rescue 3 rescue courses offered have been geared towards professional rescuers like fire departments and Search & Rescue teams. These courses provided a ton of valuable knowledge but they couldn’t escape the fact that the types of rescues that whitewater boaters are likely to encounter are inherently different from those that professional rescuers see. Despite having far less gear and personnel than fire departments, boaters are usually the first on scene and have a strong understanding of hydrology and whitewater. The RRC/RRC Pro curriculum was developed to address these differences.
JEFF: Sierra Rescue developed the RRC/RRC Pro curriculum as a way to standardize river rescue across a wide variety of already skilled river users, from kayakers and canoeists to raft guides and cat boaters. Our comfort level on the river is high, but many of our skills have been learned informally or in-house over the years. Swiftwater/Whitewater Rescue Technician (SRT/WRT) courses have provided the groundwork for our river rescue skills, but there are instances where those skills just don’t apply. Now the RRC/RRC Pro takes the principles learned in SRT/WRT and challenges them with scenario-based learning. The emphasis in these new courses is real-world scenarios, quick thinking, and efficient use of resources. We spend little time in the classroom and a lot of time out on the river, working through problems and learning as a group.
DIFFERENCE BETWEEN RRC AND RRC PRO
The main difference between the RRC and the RRC-Pro curriculum is the addition of a night search scenario (key for multi-day river guides) and the skills test at the end of the course. In the RRC you will learn and practice all of the skills and teamwork that are expected of responsible river users, and the RRC-Pro will document your mastery of those skills. Both will increase your river rescue awareness and give you a chance to develop crucial problem solving skills during rescues.
RIVER RESCUE INSTRUCTOR COURSE, OCTOBER 2014 – A HUMBLING AND AWESOME EXPERIENCE!
When Jeff and I arrived on the first day of our instructor course, it was immediately apparent that we both had a lot to learn. Even though we both have years of experience guiding commercially, kayak instructing, and paddling difficult rivers all over the world, we found ourselves humbled by the experience and talent of both the instructors and the other students in the class. For the entire week, we were surrounded by some of the smartest and most talented rescuers and rescue instructors in the entire world.
We spent 4 days learning the latest rescue techniques and breaking down the best ways to teach them. Most of our time was spent in the field practicing scenario facilitation and learning how to teach key concepts. We learned that by setting up scenarios, students would be forced to work on two key rescue skills: quick decision making and creativity.
As the week went on, the scenarios became more technical and challenging, and by day 3 we were teaching students how to set up complicated rope systems and organizing night rescue scenarios.
By the end of the week, Jeff and I were thoroughly exhausted and both agreed that while we had learned a lot, it was only the beginning. With a lot of work studying and shadowing other instructors this winter, we are dedicated to being ready to teach the RRC/RRC-Pro for Wet Planet next spring.
JEFF: I think the new RRC/RRC-Pro curriculum is much better tailored to avid river users. There’s not a boater out there who would not benefit from these new courses. As someone who has spent an average of 100 days on the river for the last 10 years, I was really impressed by the hands-on nature of the course and how much it allowed me to learn.
At Wet Planet, we are excited to continue the push to make river rescue faster, more efficient, and safer. If you are an experienced boater and want to train your river rescue skills to the next level, this is the course to take. This spring, Wet Planet will be offering both the traditional SRT/WRT courses as well as the newly tailored RRC/RRC-Pro. We hope to see you here.
Come join us! An accessible, more affordable river rescue course for boaters – taught and developed by experienced boaters. Finally!
The RRC (Pro) dates for 2015:
The third day is for those who desire the Pro certification.
Find more information and how to sign up here.Author Dave Seal is a raft guide and kayak instructor at Wet Planet and will be teaching rescue courses starting in the 2015 season. When he’s not on the river, you can find him ski patrolling at Mount Hood Meadows or mountain biking in the beautiful Columbia River Gorge.