Learning how to stay afloat and navigate swift water in life-threatening situations is a requirement for those who work at OPR, according to OPR Shop Manager Andrew McDonald. OPR will host the Swift Water Rescue course beginning on Friday, April 19. OPR invites students who have the money and the interest to join them.
According to OPR Shop Attendant and Outdoor Guide Kayla Gallentine, the course is taught by instructors from Rescue 3 International. Rescue 3, according to their website, has been providing water rescue and safety training to the U.S and 50 other countries since 1979.
Gallentine said through the course, students will learn rope-rescue techniques including knots and pulley systems. She said the course teaches students how to help others who have lost control of themselves in moving water, as well as how to read and navigate the river when one finds themself at its mercy.
“It feels really good to be able to feel in control and prepared when you’re going outdoors…and to know that you’re in good hands that can take care of you if anything happens,” Gallentine said.
The first day of the course is a classroom day, according to Gallentine. She said trainees will learn many of the techniques they will use in the river over the weekend, like how to work with rope, tie various knots, recover people in the river and recognize signs of hypothermia. Gallentine said beginning Saturday morning, trainees will take their newly learned skills to the Cle Elum River and put them to the test.
According to Mcdonald, there are a few pieces of equipment that are required in the river-training. He said that trainees must be wearing dry suits, helmets and personal floatation devices while in the river, all of which will be provided by OPR.
The river training in the Cle Elum River will take place at a spot just above Lake Cle Elum. Mcdonald said the spot is great for training because it features sections of slower-moving water, sections with light rapids and can be surveyed from a bridge that passes overhead.
McDonald said trainees don’t need to have river experience before taking the course. Although, he said the outdoor portion of the course can get physical, so those thinking of participating should be comfortable in the water.
According to Gallentine, at the end of the 3-day course trainees will earn their swift water rescue certification. She said the certification is a prerequisite for jobs involving fast-moving water.
Whether students are thinking of becoming river guides with OPR, another company or simply want to pick up some new skills, the course costs $350. Non-students, including alumni, staff and faculty, are also welcome to join. The cost for non-students is raised to $425.
According to Mcdonald, registration for the course is still open. He said that OPR hasn’t set a deadline on registration. To register, visit OPR’s office just outside of the doors to the SURC. The course begins April 19 at 6 p.m. with the classroom session at OPR.