With the recent changes to the BCU star test awards, there is now an inclusion of White Water Safety and Rescue training on Class III/IV rivers. So recently with Croydon Activie Paddlers and low water conditions in the UK, Dave Carroll, Deb Pinniger and myself put together a weekend of advanced WWS&R techniques for Creek boaters and Active paddlers alike. This course was tailor made to the groups requirements, yet easily fitted in to the new 5 Star Training aspect for Advanced WWS&R.On the first day we reviewed ropes and gear, then Dave Carroll made his now famous throw bag assault course which always shows the common mistakes under friendly pressure. On the afternoon of the first day, we walked into the Upper Dart, were we ran a number of z-drag scenarios, followed by, clinches for vertical pinning, foot entrapment and boat recovery.Day two took us to the River Erme again on Dartmoor, for more steep terrain specific rescue techniques. First up Dave Carroll lead a steep access workshop, then I headed a live bate exercise which involved boat recover in the slot drop and to mix it up a bit we added an injured swimmer to the scene. Later on it was more specific vertical pin scenarios, with tag lines, and clinches. The mainstay of the second afternoon focused on group dynamics, communication and incident management, this is an area normally on the whole ignored with WW paddlers. The case to develop a functioning group dynamic with all members freely communicating and contributing to the solution rather than an individual leader attempting to direct the strategy can often mean the difference between prompt success and slow failure in a river rescue situation. Plus it may also build trust, confidence and co-ordination amongst paddling friends. So when the water is low and you are waiting for rain, why not get out and work on some WWS&R with your buddies, its best to have a plan and not need it, than have no plan and wonder why its all gone to shit right in front of your eyes!
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