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There appears to be three variations of swiftwater rescue courses available: SRT, WRT, and ACA. I've done an ACA course, but am curious as to the differences with these other courses. Anybody have experience?
 

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The Swiftwater Rescue Technician (SRT-1) course is the first of three classes needed for personnel to meet the requirements for the Technician level NFPA 1670 Standard on Operations and Training for Technical Rescue Incidents and the NFPA 1006 Standard for Rescue Technician Professional Qualifications in the area of water.

The Whitewater Rescue Technician (WRT) course is for people who either work or for recreational purposes find themselves on or around the river. DWR, Fish and Game personnel, Environmental Consultants, Fisheries Biologists and other professionals that work around streams and rivers will find this course applicable to their needs.

Many students have difficulty choosing between the Swiftwater Rescue Technician and Whitewater Rescue Technician programs. While both courses teach basically the same material, the emphasis of each course is different.

Fire and rescue personnel should take the NFPA-compliant Swiftwater Rescue Technician Unit 1 (SRT-1) course.

River Guides, Private Boaters and Kayakers should take Whitewater Rescue Technician (WRT) course.

Rescue 3, International's curriculum has been tested and refined by a global network of instructors who have taught more than 150,000 students in 35 countries.

If you’re interested in attending either of the above courses email me at [email protected] for more information.

We’ll be offering a series of Rescue 3 International courses on Clear Creek and on the Arkansas in May and June.
 

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Just to add to the above, since there is no mention of the ACA courses, they are also a good option for guides and private paddlers. While the WRT course gets you a fancier sounding certification, the ACA courses, at least the ones we teach at Downstream Edge tend to be more paddler specific and scenario based. You generally won't find "professionals who work around streams" in ACA courses, unless you want to call raft guides professionals ;), but you will find a more hands on and paddler specific approach to not only swiftwater rescue scenarios but also to learning safe river running strategies to help avoid rescue situations in the first place.

Not trying to knock the technician course but in my experience I've found the ACA courses, again, at least the ones we teach at Downstream Edge to be more useful for paddlers because we don't need to teach to the lowest denominator, which in many technician courses tends to be a fireman or a fish and game personnel or a fisheries biologist. who has no interest in paddling and whose rescue situations tend to be quite a bit different than a raft guide or private paddlers rescue situations. You can learn more about our courses here River Rescue «
 

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Having re-read the original post, Windriver stated that he had attended an ACA course so I assumed that he was familiar with the ACA curriculum.

As often seems to happen, I was hoping to avoid the “our curriculum is better than your curriculum” debate. We actually can teach ACA Safety and Rescue courses in addition to Rescue 3’s however we have the greatest demand for Rescue 3 certifications and I find that there to be significant advantages to certifying students through Rescue 3.

By replying to the original post I was hoping to clarify the difference between the Swiftwater Rescue Technician and Whitewater Rescue Technician courses (the ACA curriculum is most closely related to the Whitewater Rescue Technician course).

While both courses teach basically the same material, the emphasis of each course is different.

It should be obvious that there are a certain set of skills and knowledge that everyone needs to know if they are working and playing in high-risk environments like moving water. You need to know how to evaluate a location for potential risks, how to work and play safely in the environment, and what to do if yourself or a buddy gets in trouble—and you’ve got to know how to perform a rescue safely and quickly.

A team of emergency personnel responding to an incident where someone is already in trouble is going to emphasize different skills than a recreational paddler out running the river for fun. In a WRT course the emphasis is on speedy, low-tech, and improvised rescue techniques that are effective and require minimal equipment and it is geared specifically towards whitewater boaters.

We start with a proven curriculum and then tailor our approach to the individual paddler to make sure the skills and knowledge they learn are taught in a way that makes them relevant to their environment. There’s no sense spending valuable training time learning techniques that have absolutely no relevance to what you do every day. Every student is taught all the skills and knowledge required for certification, but the emphasis is always different depending on the person’s individual interests.

We are able to take the standard curriculum and adapt it because we employ only top-notch, professional instructors who are not only extremely competent rescue technicians, but also gifted teachers. We believe our people are one of our strongest assets. Each of our instructors have more than 20 years of whitewater kayaking and rafting experience. We have provided custom tailored courses for private kayakers, professional and recreational rafters, search and rescue teams, fire department technical rescue teams, BLM and State Park Rangers and others.

Based on my experience teaching to such diverse groups, I think that for the majority of folks visiting this site the Whitewater Rescue Technician (WRT) course would be the most useful and appropriate.

Again, you can email me directly at[email protected] if you have any questions.
 

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My bad, missed that in his original post. Wasn't trying to claim on the curriculum as much as on the people who generally take the classes and how that can effect what you get out of it.

The Whitewater Rescue Technician (WRT) course is for people who either work or for recreational purposes find themselves on or around the river. DWR, Fish and Game personnel, Environmental Consultants, Fisheries Biologists and other professionals that work around streams and rivers will find this course applicable to their needs.
This description doesn't make it sound like it is exactly "geared specifically towards whitewater boaters," and I've taken both Rescue 3 courses myself early in my paddling career and in both the classes that I was in there were non-paddlers who IMO led the to a less paddler specialized course than I was hoping for.
 

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Evan, just like in any field, there are both good and poor instructors. I’m sorry you had such poor luck in choosing your courses and instructors.

I would suggest that anyone interested in attending a rescue course clearly express their goals in attending the course. Ask questions, talk to students that have taken courses from that instructor, ask for references and of course find a class that suits your needs.

We strive to provide excellent customer service at all stages of the training process from inquiry to certification ... or even years down the road if you need some simple advice. It should be obvious that tailoring the course to meet the specific needs of the student is essential to providing a quality product.
 

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Totally agree. I should have added that I was uninformed as to what the classes taught, what they should teach, even what I wanted to learn. It truly does depend on your instructor and the company providing the course. Great advice on expressing your goals, asking a lot of q's ahead of the course and getting input from people who've taken the course. Under any class heading a great instructor is going to teach a valuable course and it definitely just depends what you're looking to get out of it.
 

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Took a WRT class last month. It was awesome! One of the things that stood out about it was that it was more "McGyver" like than I had been told. We got to use anything and everything that we had on a boat (whereas it seemed that a friend who took SRT instead got to learn about helicopter rescues).

I highly recommend the WRT class. Very practical stuff.
 

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Swiftwater Rescue/Water Rescue Technician Courses

Lifesaving Resources (lifesaving.com) conducts an 8-hour Water Rescue Technician (WRT) Course for Public Safety and Rescue personnel. This course is designed to provide First Responders with the skills and knowledge required to safely and effectively respond to incidents in, on and around static water, including lakes, ponds, swimming pools, etc. We also conduct a 16-hour Swiftwater Rescue Technician (SRT) Course that includes the first 8-hours of the WRT Course, in addition to an additional 2-hour classroom session, and a 6-hour practical session conducted in a moving water environment.

These curriculums meet/exceed NFPA 1670 Standard for Technical Rescue. And, we also conduct an annual WATER RESCUE TRAIN-THE-TRAINER ACADEMY for the purpose of training representatives of Public Safety and Rescue agencies as Water Rescue Instructors who are then authorized to conduct Water Rescue Awareness, Operations, and Technician level courses, as well as Swiftwater Rescue Technician Courses.

For information on these, as well as our series of Ice Rescue Technician Courses, please access the Lifesaving Resources' website at Lifesaving Resources Inc. - The Power of Water.
 

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The above course is just the kind of course that IMO is the norm for the Rescue 3 courses as opposed to Cooljerk's courses which appear to be more tailored towards paddlers.
 

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First of all I would like to say that, to the best of my knowledge, Lifesaving Resources is in no way affiliated with Rescue 3 International or their curriculum. It troubles me to see Lifesaving Resources using similar course titles which seems to add to the confusion for prospective students looking for a course appropriate for their needs.

As an example, I don’t think it’s fair to compare Lifesaving Resources 8 hour WRT with Rescue 3 Internationals 24 to 30 hour Whitewater Rescue Technician. It seems disingenuous and misleading to say the least.

I also don’t think it’s fair to call that the norm for Rescue 3’s curriculum, instructors and classes. Students interested in experienced boater based Rescue 3 instructors need only look at instructors like Chris Jonason at Wave Trek Rescue, Julie Munger and Abigail Polsby at Sierra Rescue (both Rescue 3 Instructors of the year), Mike Mather at Mather Rescue, Brandon Holmes at Elite Swiftwater and the list goes on. (I’ll add that I’m quite proud of the instructor resumes for the instructors at Sawatch Rescue as well).

Becoming an instructor for Rescue 3 is a long process, as true competence takes many years and hundreds of hours of training and practice to achieve (as opposed to ACA and Lifesaving Resources where you can go from ‘zero to hero’ and certify as an instructor in 3 to 4 days).

Our goals are to match students with the courses that best suit their needs, encourage challenge by choice through active participation in real rescue scenarios and provide the best possible swiftwater rescue training available. I feel that these goals can best be accomplished by offering technical rescue courses developed and certified by Rescue 3 International.

If students feel that an ACA course would be more appropriate or better suit their needs we can provide ACA instruction as well.

I think all of the above emphasizes the merit of my previous suggestion that anyone interested in attending a swiftwater rescue course clearly express their goals in attending the course, ask questions, talk to students that have taken courses from that instructor, ask for references and of course find a class that suits their needs.

Whatever path boaters choose to embark on, I encourage everyone to ask questions, get and stay informed and become competent in the basics of water rescue.

Eric Young,
Instructor
Sawatch Rescue
719-221-6716
[email protected]
 

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That was seriously misleading. WRT course is not Whitewater Rescue Technician, it's just Water Rescue Technician? Heres another W acronym - WTF Lifesaving Resources!

You're right Eric, that was unfair to call that the norm and there our great Rescue 3 instructors out there. I've also just seen first hand and heard way to many stories of Rescue 3 courses being designed for firefighters not paddlers so I apologize if I've come off jaded. I also would not recommend just signing up for any ACA rescue course offered. There is the zero to hero chance, as you are correct that you can become a certified instructor in 4 days, however I think ALL of our instructors would resent being lumped into that category as they are all very accomplished paddlers with extensive river knowledge, who have safely navigated some of the most difficult rivers on the planet and who have successfully participated in numerous real life rescue situations. No amount of training can really compensate for real world experience IMO.

ACA has allowed us at Downstream Edge to come up with unique rescue courses that can be adapted to paddling groups and which are almost completely scenario based. They also allow us to offer a more affordable course for the average paddler. The courses have been designed over a number of years for paddlers by paddlers and this is definitely not the case with all ACA or Rescue 3 courses and I would venture that we are both in agreement about that.
 

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Well stated Evan. I couldn’t agree more.

For the record, I’ve heard nothing but great things about the affordable kayak specific courses offered by Downstream Edge.

Give me a shout if you ever want to stop by during one of our courses. I think you might leave with an appreciation of what we have to offer as well.

Stay safe.

Eric
[email protected]
 
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