Goal is to create appropriate confidence in training and techniques
Practice is essential - you cant get good with throw bag skills, agressive swimming, ropework, etc. without practice. Books, these web resources, and classes give you knowledge. Exercises (scenarios) reinforce those skills and provide confidence. If you fail the first time, evaluate and try again until you master the skill/technique.
Emphasis on what worked and what could be done differently next time
Rescues are exhilarating, tense, and confusing. Your mind will often be racing. We do the best we can based on our training and skill level. Most rescues are sucessful which is great news - we get there eventually. Once the dust has settled, it doesn't hurt to take some time to discuss what happened and think about alternative strategies that may take less time, decrease risk, or less taxing. While evaluating the exercise, take a closer look at things that perhaps didn't go wrong but might have. Did you set safety? Did you use everyone in some useful capacity? Were your first-aid skills current? Great atheletes always look for ways to improve. This is why we practice rescue skills periodically - besides it can be a great deal of fun as well.
Debriefing to reinforce rescue priorities
As discussed previously, an instructor needs to watch the whole evolution. This is for safety as well as the debrief afterwards. If you notice any unsafe activity beginning to take place, warn the student and explain immediately. You can also quiz the students for alternative approaches. Add hypothetical changes during your talk if that helps as well. Our goal is to get everyone thinking, asking questions, and learning how to best use their training.
For some exercises, I like using video and then playing the scene back. In the heat of an exercise, things happen quickly and sometimes without thought. Video is great for capturing subtle mistakes that can easily be overlooked.
Managing common river problems, including multiple swimmers and loose gear
On many trips especially novice and intermediate ones, we often encounter paddlers that failed to roll and end up swimming. If they let gos of their gear, we call this a yard sale :-) As always, tend to the swimmer first before they get into further troubles. If you have multiple paddlers, split up and do whatever is necessary - swimmer first, then boat, then paddle. Sometimes we will get multiple swimmers. This may be due to a tandem boat like a canoe or someone following to close, very common these days. The priorities don't change, get people out of harms way quickly. We will definitely practice these skills in a scenario or two when you least expect it.
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