SRT 3 Spring Course
(Swiftwater Rescue Technician)
Instructors: Danny Cooke, Adrian Lasalle Lowe, Brett Easton
The SRT 3 course held in the adventure program at TRU is a very useful course for all people who spend lots of their time outside on moving rivers, from big to small volume in water capacity. This course gives students a great opportunity to become comfortable maneuvering around class 2 and class 3 rapids, and to acquire several different methods of rescuing stranded victims on the river or on the opposite side where there is no easy way to get across. Another reason to take the course is because it is one of the most fun adventure courses out there, to throw yourself down a rapid and to experience a feeling like no other!
It takes 5 days of exciting physical activity, learning some basic rope systems and to accurately throw a throw-bag to a distant floating victim on moving water in order to successfully become a Swiftwater Rescue Specialist and to gain a professional certification at the end of the course. Course members stay at the Cultus Lake campground near Chilliwack, BC which is surrounded in great big cedar and spruce trees and is on the edge of a lake with a scenic view. During the day the class drives out to the Chilliwack River (mainly the Tamahi Rapids) to learn how to swim and function in mostly class 3 whitewater. Students learn the offensive and defensive positions of swimming, how to angle themselves to safely swim across currents, and how to maneuver their bodies in and around large waves and holes. A portion of the course is dedicated to several realistic scenarios where the instructors act out an emergency on the river and which the students have to safely and effectively solve the problem using methods and following regulations for a safe outcome. There is a lot of time to get comfortable with the equipment used such as prussic cords, long rope, webbing, pulleys and locking carabiners in order to make basic mechanical advantage rescue systems. Much of the course material emphasizes a low to high-risk approach in which high risk problems can be solved with low risk solutions. The safety of the rescuer comes first, followed by their team mates, and bystanders. The victim is second last in priority only being favored to any equipment lost. These tactics are used in order to prevent another individual from becoming a victim. The fifth day of the program concludes with an exam day where the student has to build a mechanical advantage system, swim a particular section of class 3 water and successfully rescue a swimming victim using a throwbag numerous times.
After completing the course, I would personally recommend SRT 3 to anyone interested, either with or without experience in outdoor water activities. The program not only teaches you how to act properly in water based emergencies, it also is a great way to become highly educated in ways to prevent accidents from happening in the first place. People who are out on the water should know the basic principles to rescuing victims and should have a platform in which to perform a handful of skills in critical situations. I can say that this course has been the most useful to me as an adventure student, since I spend most of my time in the water environment . If you know you will dedicate a portion of your time in the future to water based activities, it is important to become a Swiftwater Rescue Specialist in order to be safe and minimize danger. Taking bigger risks out there is only possible when you know you will be able to manage these risks with the education and techniques for low risk solutions to high risk problems!