Swift Water Rescue Course
Swift-Water Rescue Course.
Over the last two to three years the RATS have been building up their capability in Swift-Water Rescue (SWR).
On the 5th, 6th, and 7th of January seven members of the team along with members from the other Canterbury Response teams undertook an intensive SWR Technician course delivered by the Emergency Management Academy of New Zealand in association with Rescue 3 International. Friday was spent concentrating on the classroom-based theory, learning about river hydraulics, types of rescue in swift-water, equipment used, safety in and around the water, throw bagging, and more.
On Saturday we had an early start and traveled to the Hurunui River by the Balmoral Forest. Once there we donned our wetsuits and other personal protective equipment before jumping into the river to practice personal survival, and river crossing techniques and throw bagging. After lunch we had a go at rescue swimming in the water and techniques for managing a casualty who is unconscious or who may have a spinal injury. We then returned to Christchurch for some more theory.
Sunday was another early start out at the river where we learnt about and practiced rescue techniques using a special SWR raft. We then set up a zip line to get people from one side of the river to the other.
Everyone enjoyed doing this as it is a bit like a flying fox but in the water. After the zip line we set up V-lowers as a way of maneuvering a rescuer close to some one who is in water that is dangerous to swim in. The last technique for the day was strainer drills. A strainer is where something is across the river, normally stick and logs but could also be rocks, which create a dam like structure that a swimmer could get caught on. Normally when this happens the swimmer or rescuer gets pinned to the strainer, runs out of energy trying to get free of it and then drowns. We had to practice finding out what it felt like to get caught in a strainer and then what to do to get out of it or, better still, get over it with out getting caught.
Overall it was a great weekend. It is hoped that further training will take place later in the year that will concentrate on how to get people out of a car that has ended up in swift water.