I recently took the Rescue 3 SRT class at Haywood and Nantahala River. It's certainly one of the best classes I've taken. Leaving the class you certainly leave with a good feeling that you can perform a swiftwater rescue. Our class was a three day class, beginning on Saturday at Haywood community college for the classroom portion. The next two days (Sunday and Monday) were on the Nantahala River. Our class instructors were Rescue 3 instructors Trey Smith and AJ Bird. I've taken other classes with both instructors and it doesn't get any better, not to mention a comfort level existed, with instructors you know and trust. If you consider taking this class, below are my recommendations based on my experience in class:
- Get a drysuit! Not a wetsuit! Yes I did take the class in a wetsuit and on the longer swims I was miserable. A 7mm wetsuit, 5mm headcap, 5mm gloves and 7mm gloves were not enough to keep you warm. The cold isn't the only problem, I found myself really exhausted, trying to fight the tension of the wetsuit during swimming. You'll work twice as hard in a wetsuit and you will be cold to boot. The water temp, I was told, was around 42 Degrees Fahrenheit. To me it might as well have been ice water. I also had issues staying hydrated due to the fact that sometimes you are out of the water and burning up in a wetsuit. That made the water feel much colder, being very hot, suddenly jumping into 42 degree water. If your only option is a wetsuit, pick and choose your battles carefully. Don't stay in the water if you don't need to be there. Warm up anytime you have a chance. Also get your breath before doing another skill. The wetsuit will constrict you and you won't be able to hang with the folks wearing drysuits in any endurance races.
- Make sure you have a current swiftwater PFD. I had a Type V but it didn't have a cowtail and was missing the blowout ring. A carabiner is more likely to get caught on things, which I did get caught up a few times. Using prusik coard with a carabiner is very hard to use and getting your arm caught, happened every time, isn't recommened.
- Drink lots and lots of water. Most headaches which you'll likely get are from dehydration. I drank water only for the most part before and during class. Any chance I got to drink I guzzled down what I could. It really helps and keeps you from feeling fatigued or getting headaches.
- Pay really close attention to path the instructors go. It will save you from getting beat up by the rocks. The only exception is if you hear them yell things like "Yoo Hoo" or "Oh God". Might want to be weary of these signals.
- Pay really close attention to your teammates and look for fatigue, signs of thermas, and PAR off often. Key is to see it before gets bad and get them recovered. This would include yourself.
- Get to know peoples names right off the bat. Ask who the riggers are. Look at other peoples gear.
I would highly recommend this class. It's one of the most rewarding classes I've taken and I learned a lot. It's like diving, not something you can take once and not practice on a continual basis. Comments, questions, and rude remarks are always welcome, just click on the comments section and drop me a line....