Tuesday, April 27, 2010

What Can I Do With WRT?

"Anyone who wants to do avid rafting should get WRT certified because it's helpful for learning to read and respect the river. By understanding the river, you can avoid putting yourself in danger when kayaking and rafting. You can safely have fun riding and doing tricks in the rapids as your skills improve."
-Heidi, Leadership fall 2009

Leadership students are on certification numero tres (#3) this semester: Whitewater Rescue Technician (WRT). (It can also known as Swiftwater Rescue Technician (SRT) because both courses teach basically the same material, but the emphasis of each course is different for different types of rescue professionals.) With this training, students learn to use or deflect the water’s power to assist in the rescue of an endangered person.

River Instructors Joe Ewing and Diego Lopez have been putting them through drills for the past two days on Río Pejibaye with two more days to go. By now, Joe and Diego expect them to know that an eddy (horizontal reversal of water flow due to an obstacle) is the "safety zone" in the river; that a throw bag (a rope-filled bag used to rescue swimmers with one end of the rope connected to the inside of the bag) is the most essential item to have with you on the river; and that a strainer (buildup of debris such as rocks and logs which restrict downstream flow) is one of the more dangerous places to be on the river.

Their River Instructors will put them through drills, such as the Victim Rescue. Antonio Lopez explains this as a "really fun" and helpful activity when students have to jump into the river (in a safe area, of course), grab the "victim," float downstream with that person, then rescue him/her to the banks of the river.

This WRT certification covers it all, from River Categores (I through VI) and types of rope to the 15 Basic Rules and how to plan for a helicopter rescue. The manual our instructors use (pictured right) is 129 pages alone. They learn how to tie anchors, swim in any part of the river, and most importantly, rescue any person (including themselves) in any whitewater situation.

All students' certifications are recognized by Rescue 3 International through which all Costa Rica Outward Bound river instructors are certified to teach. Its curriculum has been "tested and refined by a global network of instructors who have taught more than 150,000 students in 35 countries." It prides itself on its "dedication to providing students with practical, real world experience."

All Costa Rica Outward Bound semester courses get trained in WRT due to the amount of time they spend on the river rafting and kayaking. And students are happy to get this training because it helps them overcome their fears of it. They also learn skills which make them proud. When Heidi reflected on earning her WRT certification, she told us, "When I started with rope throwing, I could barely get it out of the [throw] bag; but by the end I could do two [accurate throws] in under a minute. It's great knowing you could put it to use to help someone."

Sources: Wikipedia;Rescue 3 International,

Read more blogs about our certifications:
Wilderness First Responder; NAUI Scuba Certification

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